Susannah Montague was born in Peterborough, England and emigrated to Canada with her family when she was five years old. She graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 1996. She was also educated at the Ontario University of Art and Design and the Vancouver Film School.
In 1996 the B.C. Ceramic Gallery awarded the artist studio space and kilns for one year as Top Emerging Ceramic Artist.
During the next several years Susannah was involved in many Art Installations and design projects for Public spaces, night clubs, and restaurants in Vancouver, such as Shine, Lotus Sound Lounge, Ballantyne's and "C-Level Bar" for Norwegian Cruise Lines to name a few.
In 1999, Susannah was selected as one of 30 founding artists for the C.O.R.E Artist Live Work Studios and she made this her studio and home.
That same year Susannah also became a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) in the departments Sculpture, Prop Building. Susannah maintained this membership until 2009 and this gave the Artist the opportunity to work in sculpture on many major films such as the X-Men series and Night at the Museum.
Working in film allowed Susannah to finance work on her personal sculpture projects and in 2005 Susannah was the recipient of a Canada Council Arts Grant. The grant was an honour that allowed her to dive into a series of ceramic sculptures building and studying the sphere.
In 2007 Susannah and her husband moved to Bowen Island where she works full-time in her studio as a ceramic sculptor. Her and her husband’s life changed significantly in 2009 with the birth of twins. The artist now finds herself drawn to different themes particularly her perceptions of life, death and growth.
Susannah Montague is a British-Canadian ceramic sculptor who lives on an island off of the wild West Coast of Canada with her husband, two children, and a tutu-wearing terrier.
Montague’s art is as humorous as it is subversive. Her pieces are a daydream in clay, wryly communicating the intransience of the human condition with a wink and a nudge. Stepping into her studio is like discovering an Eighteenth-Century Cabinet of Curiosity. Her art is a collection of shamanistic characters which imbibe the peculiar, scientific and mythical qualities involved in creation. Rollicking, cherubic figures wearing masks and antlers frolic among symbols of decay, in a world that is equal parts shadowy and lighthearted. Her lively sculptures are an amalgam of animal, human and object. Combined, the images evoke a whimsical narrative of folk tales, childhood fantasies, dreams, and nightmares.
The artist draws on her deeply personal history to reference fertility and childbirth, using babies, blastocysts, and vanitas symbolism to convey a frenetic celebration of the divine comedy of existence. There is a precarious balance in her work between life and death, creation and destruction, innocence and corruption. The artist states, “These characters know much more than they let on.” Each individual sculpture is an island of ideas, a cluster of creative life-force/death-drive, and a barge of becoming.
Montague’s medium is also her message. It’s fitting that her raw material is clay, taken from the earth, lovingly molded, fired, and finally made into deliciously delicate porcelain that will—inevitably—return to the earth. Ashes to ashes. This cyclical perception of time is enhanced by her rediscovery of a forgotten art medium, bursting with the floral blooms of a porcelain past and decorated with all the excesses of a lost century. Even as it is born, each piece has somehow curiously already died away.
Ultimately, viewing a Susannah Montague piece is a bit like falling down a rabbit hole, and feeling in turns terrified and utterly charmed.