Sue Ironfield


'Source' and 'Fibonacci Dome' acrylic on wood, by Sue Ironfield


"Sue Ironfield takes up in a new form the tradition of painting which emulates music, with its expressive numerical language, in order to reach a meaningful abstraction. She is stimulated by the qualities of intervals - octave, fifth, third etc. These emerge in the natural harmonic series or overtone row. Intervals are the building-blocks of music and represent universal principles of order-in-chaos.

Her springboard was Johannes Kepler`s analogy in his Weltharmonik or Harmonic Theory of the Universe of 1619 between intervals and polygons. These figures are shown by Sue to evolve from the fission of the circle, forming a mandorla or almond-shape, an iconographic element sometimes shown as a face. Sometimes a Yin-Yang curve instigates division and growth.

These heartfelt abstractions become dynamic, with strong line and vibrant expressive colour, and are enriched by various symbolic allusions.

The simple number series of the intervals, 1 2 3 4 5 etc, with their crystalline forms, are then connected to the Fibonacci series, 1 2 3 5 8 etc, a formula for growth related to the Golden Section.


Around its core number moves pure forms
in and out of chaos, telling how the cosmos
means a flowing order. In music it vibrates
and speaks from the heart of my microcosm
and yours, where the own sound broods a folded
row of overtones longing to evolve."

Excerpt (translated from the German) from a talk given by Art Historian Dr. Peter Holzwig at Sue`s exhibition in the Robert Schumann Music College in Düsseldorf.

"Abstraction continually gives birth to what I, to put it freely, would like to call the altogether original Ironfield Particle Zoo. For where else can one see friendly "overtone mascots" floating like will-o`-the-wisps through huge astral spaces, or Golden Section flowers shining above horizons, or the overtone row transformed to a series of heavenly apparitions?
The intellectual search for meaningful connections, the tracking down of essential forms, the crystalline structures, the Fibonacci spirals and interval analogies continually appear as enormous calyxes surrounded by cosmic night, or dreamy mysterious homunculi which hover over planetary abysses,.......or in the wide distances of the inner world.
All this makes Ironfield`s painting demanding and charming, profound and amiable, and that`s quite something."

Images above as follows: "Harmonic bells" acrylic and mixed media on board; "Whole new board game" acrylic on board; details from the artists sketches; artist: Sue Ironfield.


Born in Accrington, Lancashire, 16.2.45. Studied languages and music at the University of Liverpool, and wrote a Doctoral thesis on the artistic ideas of Berlioz (referred). Painted and exhibited continuously from 1976. Lived in Düsseldorf from 1985 to 2007. Is now also writing poetry again, including a long series on the astrological signs.


Liverpool - Bluecoat Gallery, Centre Gallery, Acorn Gallery (now Egg Cafe), Everyman Theatre, Neptune Theatre, New Age Festival, Poetry Convention at Lark Lane Community Association, University School of Architecture, University Mind Symposium.
Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead. Haworth Art Gallery, Accrington.

Since her return to Liverpool, Sue has also been involved in various local exhibition organised through Gallery4allarts, including a small retrospective of her own work, as part of the "Artists and Identity" show, 2007 and "People and Love", 2008.



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