Suky Best
54 Morning Lane  2011  video still

Suky Best is an artist based in London. Working with print, animation and installation, she has exhibited nationally and internationally.

Commissioned works include, Early Birds an Animate Projects commission for Channel 4 in association with Arts Council England, recently in Extinct at the Natural History Museum, London. About Running is a moving image commission for The Great North Run, Stone Voices, a permanent sculptural piece for the Devils Glen in Ireland, and From the Archive, an animation for the main reception area of University College Hospital London and The Park in Winter Arts Council Englands online Christmas card 2008 and Horses for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

She was included in Assembly and Art Now: Lightbox at Tate Britain, and has exhibited at the Baltic, Gateshead and has had solo exhibitions and publications, including The Return of the Native at the Pump House Gallery London.
In 2005 she completed a Wellcome Trust funded SCIART project, making animations for hospital outpatient areas. She was Fellow in Printmaking at the University of Wolverhampton (funded by the Henry Moore Foundation)1998-2000, and has completed an MPhil research degree at the Royal College of Art London investigating the relationships between birds and film.

Please click here to view Suky Best's virtual room, created as part of the gallery's lockdown programme.


> Curriculum vitae
> Artist website
> Exhibitions at the gallery: 25 Years 2020, Wild Interior 2014, Wild West 2005
> Editions
> Press
Beach Studies (Kerala)
2020  looping video with sound  3m 5s
These short beach studies are from time spent in India (Kovalam), a seaside resort on the southern coast of Kerala, in Jan 2019 and Jan 2020. It was intriguing to see how differently Indian people behaved in and out of the sea. Going in fully clothed, chatting groups lark about, having in fun in a way that we don’t seem to in the UK. The women unconcerned about their Saris, none caring about shoes getting wet, these groups jostle each other, boys splashing, dunking shrieking elders having fun. Until it’s time for the photos. For the photos everything changes. These arranged, curated moments are serious and intentional. Laughter stops for the moment when gazing at the camera is all, then resumes once the image is done. Each person has a strong idea of their ideal image, arranging themselves, giving orders to those around them, a curated idea of the self.

It wasn’t until March 2020 when we went into the coronavirus pandemic lockdown that the work began to take shape. It gave me somewhere to escape and dream of when we were barely allowed to leave our houses except for food and exercise. The child playing so freely in the surf takes us back to a freer time when we didn’t have to think about the future.

Those who seem to be having the most fun, don’t have their cameras out. The surfing boys, the child covering himself in sand, they are in the moment, feeling, experiencing, enjoying. I made this work in isolated central London in March - June 2020 and it gave me comfort.

- Suky Best
The Sea House
2014, Animation
Suky Best’s animation, The Sea House (2014), begins as it ends; a black screen enveloped by the sounds of the sea. The work is an animation; images of historic interiors collaged with live footage of the sea. Each separate interior in the animation has its own individual sea; some swelling and crashing, others gently lapping at the carpeted coast. At one point the sea even seems to emerge from the mouth of a fireplace, water-logging piano legs, its wildness threatening this man-made fragility. The work’s metronomic effect emerges not only from the sea soundscape but from the moving slit in the image, revealing the visual collage only in fragments, allowing us to peer into this collaged world through a segment of a screen that is primarily black. The obfuscation focuses our gaze on the details of the interiors; our eyes following the slit in the screen, left to right and back again, in the same way they might follow a hypnotist’s pendulum. The collaging is intentionally clunky in places, adding to the surreal nature of the work - we know the sea has not actually invaded these rooms but can we be sure? The fact that the work is in black and white confuses this further; we register the sea on the same visual plane as the room’s interiors, the only clue of its fictitiousness in the collage’s disjunctions.

I watch this work on my third day of self-isolation during the quickly progressing public health crisis, COVID-19. Half an hour passes and I find that I have watched the animation on loop, four times. There is something mesmeric about it, something soothing in a time of such high-anxiety. This is partially the magic of the sea, its healing qualities effective even through the transposition of its sound into a London flat, where in confinement I could not feel further from its salty sting. It is a metronome, marking the passing of time with its tides; with the soporific rumble of its body, retreating outwards and crashing inwards - dredging up and vanishing the grit from its bed, all in the same breath. The white noise of the sea underpinning Best’s animation draws us into the work’s imagery; lulls us into a rhythmic looking. At a time when many of us are facing empty rooms, we can take comfort in this work, rocked in our homes by the work’s lulling sounds.

- Tess Charnley
At Betty's House
2012, Animation
Suky Best has a long-running fascination with the clash occasioned by encounters between well-groomed domestic interiors and nature run wild.

In At Betty’s House, an environment somewhere between a room and its plan and elevation is realised. The spaces are constructed from a combination of images of real and doll’s houses. With the floor beneath carpets removed, the latter seems to take on mass, projecting assertively into the void that separates it from the viewer, and throughout the piece the removal of information, combined with the way we fly through the spaces and between objects, generates multiple ambiguities and conflicts of scale; after leaving a large room we encounter a set of coffee and tea pots, beyond which lies a group of lemons. The way these elements are disposed was inspired in part by the still lives of the seventeenth century Spanish painter Juan Sánchez de Cotán, whose invariably front or top-lit subjects: melons, cabbages, quinces, similarly hang in impenetrably dark spaces. As Betty’s pots are approached their cut-out nature becomes blatantly visible, followed by the lemons, which resolve into the matrices of their constituent colours: cyan, magenta, yellow. Thus we are shifted from one kind of seeing to another, one level of matter to another, from the image of a thing to its material constitution, in a single continuous sweep. Simultaneously our scale has shrunk from human sized to miniature as the lemons loom over us. There is perhaps a link back here to Best’s enthusiasm for cowboy iconography, in that the sensation evoked is reminiscent of the common scenario in Western movies where a group of riders passes a narrowing defile (just before the Indians attack).

For Best the work ‘refers to the interior spaces of computer games and their first person point of view’, and although the piece is structured loosely round alternating views of corridors and object groupings, the whole is constructed as a continuous fly-through. The camera finds a path between all these contrasting elements, unifying everything it encounters into a sequence of surfaces to be negotiated. But this unifying process also generates the many anomalies of scale and texture that reveal the nature of the work’s construction. Here, perhaps, one might think of the way the inexperienced gamer finds himself bumping against the pixillated boundary wall of the game’s universe. But although gaming environments are often hostile and dangerous, they are never uncanny, as they are in Betty’s house, which the humans have abandoned, leaving an eerily empty scene reminiscent of that described in the story of the Mary Celeste.

- Nicky Hamlyn

Alwyn Park House
2011, Animation and 3D prints
Alwyn Park House, is modeled on the form of the toy theatre, with its stack of printed cardboard flats that recede from the eye and between which figures can emerge and disappear. The house is a composite, constructed from stock photos of furniture and household effects found in stately home guides. Thus the objects represented in the film exist, but not in the configuration in which we see them here. The walls have been removed so that the remaining furniture comes to define the space it occupies as provisional. Doors have been made semi-transparent (and given thickened edges, since they are only paper-thin) in order to create a complex vista of succeeding spaces through which a virtual camera can fly.

- Nicky Hamlyn
54 Morning Lane
2011, Animation
Four scenes each just over a minute long showing a collage of filmed owls placed on top of a scene from a British film of the 1940’s (This Happy Breed 1941). In each scene owls appear and disappear. The work comes from ideas of transgressive animals within children’s fiction, especially Beatrix Potter’s, A Tale of Two Bad Mice, 1902 where two mice enter a dolls house, and, finding all the food to be fake, smash it up in anger and disappointment The room, a film set, is used as a constructed fictional space, like a dolls house but for adults. The collage is deliberately crude to allow a space for the viewer to fill in the gaps and make the scene more real; what they are watching isn’t real.
An observation of Flight
2010, Animation
 In An Observation of Flight (2010), a Peregrine Falcon’s movements, seen in silhouette, are tracked against a rotating latticework cage across and within which it flies. Reduced to a ragged white blur, the bird sometimes resembles a clutch of falling leaves or even paint dripping from a brush. The rotating grid pattern imposes a malleable three-dimensionality that clashes with the two dimensionality of the bird. Such clashes, or interplay, structure all the work seen here, which can be thought of as hybrid: time-based collages that combine non-temporal photo-reproduced elements, populated by cutout loops of footage of real birds, energized and animated by a virtual camera.

- Nicky Hamlyn
Cowboy Scene
2005, series of prints - collaboration with Rory Hamilton
Artists Suky Best and Rory Hamilton collaborated on works exploring the cowboy myth. They investigated themes of heroism and eternal narratives of the lone stranger coming to put things right before disappearing into the sunset. Flat clear silhouettes replace the dusty blur of the Wild West. In these worksonly the hero or his companion (be they horse, tracker or love interest) are transcribed onto the finished image. All extraneous detail is removed. When a cowboy ties up a horse and walks into a building, the horse and rider are boldly drawn, the building only existing when the rider walks behind a column, the cowboy defining the world around him.