Acclaimed portrait artist Sue Clayton is joining forces with Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) to unveil a brand new outdoor exhibition 21 in celebration of World Down Syndrome Day.
The 21 portraits, all inspired by children and adults who have Down Syndrome – especially her energetic son James – will go on display outside All Saints Church, in Pocklington from Friday 19 March to Monday 19 April.
This will be the second outdoor exhibition staged by PAC in lockdown following the highly successful NHS Heroes exhibition by Karen Winship.
Sue, who is a portrait artist with a vibrant colour palette and a social purpose, has chosen the theme ‘21’ to not only mark the 21st March, when World Down Syndrome (WDSD) is celebrated, but also to symbolise the extra 21st chromosome that people with Down Syndrome have.
Sue Clayton, of York, said: “I am delighted to once again be teaming up with Pocklington Arts Centre to unveil my latest exhibition ‘21’ to mark World Down Syndrome Day. I take a huge amount of inspiration from my son James, who celebrated his 18th birthday in lockdown, so I am very much looking forward to bringing this collection of portraits featuring children and adults with Down Syndrome at work and play to Pocklington. I really hope it helps to not only celebrate some incredible people but also perhaps challenge some people’s perceptions of Down Syndrome to coincide with this international awareness raising campaign.”
21 comes a year after Sue held a record breaking attempt to create the world’s largest pair of knitted socks at PAC, with the huge socks forming the impressive backdrop to her highly acclaimed studio exhibition Downright Marvellous at Large.
The project saw keen knitters from the local community and beyond knitting and donating brightly coloured squares that were joined together to create the enormous odd socks.
Odd socks are typically worn to mark WDSD as part of a global fundraising campaign Lots of Socks to represent the odd number of chromosomes (which are shaped like socks).
The original Downright Marvellous! (2015) exhibition at PAC mainly depicted young children who have Down Syndrome, but her new portraits feature what she views as the “unrepresented and significant” social presence of adults with Down Syndrome at work and at leisure.
PAC Director Janet Farmer said: “We are delighted to be working with Sue Clayton once again on what promises to be a fantastic exhibition to help raise awareness of a worthwhile cause. Sue’s previous exhibitions at PAC have always proved to be so popular, so we are looking forward to being able to make ‘21’ happen as an outdoor event while the venue remains closed to the public. We hope as many people as possible enjoy this truly unique and inspiring collection of works.”
Sue is drawn to the portrait because “it insists upon the idea that the more you look at a face, the more you see. Every single aspect – the eyelids, the nostrils, and the complexion – reveals the personality and character of every individual person”.
Her vision is especially important to represent those who are sometimes socially “unseen”.
After making a radical mid-career change to become a self-taught, full-time artist, Sue soon saw success with recognition by Britain’s Got Artists (2012), and most recently, as Outstanding Visual Artist in the York Culture Awards, for her much-admired York Heroes (2017-2018) project.
The Exhibition featured among others, legend of the York Theatre Royal pantomime, Berwick Kaler, and animal welfare practitioner, Mary Chapman.
One of her York Heroes portraits, depicting supermarket trolley man Andrew Fair, was featured on the first ever Grayson’s Art Club on Channel 4 during lockdown last year.
During lockdown the artist has been teaching weekly online art classes. To find out more about Sue’s classes and her work visit www.sueclaytonart.com
For further information about WDSD, and how you can show your support by wearing odd socks on 21 March, visit www.downs-syndrome.org.uk