Susie Leiper

Susie Leiper, The Garden of Heavenly Steps (2014), Concertina: oil, ink and collage on card, wood covers, 12 x 7 cm, private collection

It was a Chinese Ming dynasty woodblock-printed book that first attracted Susie to the idea of making a book: its concertina format so ideal for display, its page design so different from that of a western book, the whole enclosed in covers of silk and tucked into a slipcase. This book was a tactile, beautiful object. From imitations of such books, to infinite variations on the concertina and other formats, Susie makes one-off books featuring abstract mountain landscapes, poetry and calligraphy, that sit comfortably among her large oil paintings and works on Chinese paper.

Susie’s passion for all things Chinese grew out of a spell in Hong Kong and an editorial career in books on Chinese art and archaeology. A graduate of St Andrews and the Courtauld Institute of Art, she completed her formal training in calligraphy under artist Donald Jackson.

Solo shows: 

  • One never quite knows the mountain … (2017),
  • The Living Mountain (2015), 
  • The One Life (2012) and The Word on Wood  (2011), Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh;
  • Into the mountain, &Collective Gallery, Bridge of Allan.

Selected group shows:

  • bound : unbound, & Gallery, Edinburgh (2018);
  • Encounter, Tatha Gallery, Newport-on-Tay (2018);
  • Up on the mountain and down by the river, Upright Gallery, Edinburgh (2018);
  • The Word-Hoard, curated by Robert Macfarlane, Wordsworth House Museum, Cockermouth, Cumbria (2017),
  • Orchestra of letters, Snape Maltings, Suffolk (2017), 
  • Divine Inspiration, with the SSI at York Minster (2016); 
  • Words Set Free, London, Sunderland, Bruges (2012 – 13); 
  • Celebrate Calligraphy, London, Sunderland, Halifax (2011 – 12); 
  • The Wych Elm Project, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2009); 
  • The Saint John’s Bible, V&A, London (2006): RSA, RSW, SSA and VAS annualexhibitions (various, 2006 – 18).

Awards include the W Gordon Smith Award (VAS, 2018), ECA Library Prize (RSA2015), the Morton Fraser Award (VAS2013) and the Nancy Graham Memorial Book Award (VAS, 2011).

Susie’s work is held in the collections of the British Museum; Edinburgh College of Art Library, University of Edinburgh; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; National Library of Scotland; National Museums of Scotland; and the Royal Collection. Susie is a Fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators and is based in Edinburgh. Her calligraphy features on the new RBS polymer banknotes.

Susie is available for commissions.