Susan's work is an investigation of a tactile territory.


The “Dutch Wife” (a body sized bolster-cushion utilised as a sleeping aid) — became a companion in colonised countries for the colonialist man when travelling from the Netherlands to Africa, Indonesia and the likes. Themes such as Colonialism, Gender Politics and Craft are important components in my contemporary interpretation of the Dutch Wife. These textile/paper objects only start to communicate their complicated and fragile origins after being noticed for their appearance and shape.

The narrative and value of these objects are well en-grained in the community from where they originate and the meaning and value may change or disappear as the object is transferred between different cultures and contexts. Apart from this change of meaning, the objects themselves also change as a result of being displaced. The Dutch Wife or bolster-cushion is such an object and is represented as such in among other communities in the then Dutch influenced colony of South Africa.

On a slightly different note, the Dutch Wife also referred to the custom of men on these trips having two wives, one at home (the Netherlands) and one in South Africa, The foreign wife having a lower status in comparison. There is a multi-layered story associated with this object involving, colonial history, gender politics, craft quality as well as references to craftsmanship, influenced by the place or region in which it unfolded. By capturing (through  the stitching) on these cushions, the historical images and traumatic references of South African landscapes, Ire-assigned a new role to this colonial artefact.