Susan Kemp

I have had a portfolio career in film and television. I now earn my living as a senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh as programme director of MSc Film, Exhibition & Curation. You can find out more about me in terms of that profession at https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/susan-kemp. This site is about my art and its continuing development.

Artist Statement

For a large part of my work and career I have primarily focussed on photography and the moving image but have been increasingly frustrated by its realism.

I spend a lot of time outdoors and as much as I love film and photography I feel it leaves out so much more than it includes.

We experience life in layers. Layers of sound, colour, wind, movement, light and emotion. Our brain is constantly working to edit these layers into a comprehensive and understandable experience. If it didn’t we’d all be classed, I think, as mad.

Film and photography replicate that edit. It shows us what we experience in an edited form. It is the function of photography to operate within certain physical factors. Chiefly light.

And so as I grow old(er) I progress creatively. Much as light inspires me, and will continue to inspire me, much as story-telling has taught me, I am currently more interested in the playfulness of improvisation, like jazz but with paint. I don’t always play with the traditional instruments of art, sometimes I play with whatever is to hand. Sometimes I bring the outdoors back to my studio and paint on that too. But it is all layers.

What I have been learning from that 2 dimensional play I am also bringing back to film and am experimenting with video art. I am working on this with, of course, a great jazz musician and sound designer Tom Lyne because there is nothing quite so magical as moving image with sound — layers which work. Sometimes two layers and sometimes hunners.

My writing also takes its inspiration from the outdoors. Scotland is magical in all that it provides for the curious. The outdoors is sanity. It is happiness and meditation. It is never, ever the same.


2021 – Shortlisted for CAHSS Colleague Recognition Award

2019-20 Jury Member Big Syn International Film Festival

2019 Shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Competition

2012 ​Jury member, The Edinburgh 48 hr Film Project

2012 ​Winner, EUSA Teaching Award for developing student employability

2012 New Writer’s Award, Scottish Book Trust

2013 Longlisted for Lumen Prize and selected for the Lumen 50 (digital art global exhibition)

2008 ​Shortlisted for the Sceptre Prize, University of Glasgow