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Susie Barrow: Painting the Ligurian sea

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

In the mountains of the Cinque Terre, an English painter found her soul's expression in the rustic nature of the Ligurian coast. Meet the artist and her contemporary underwater paintings.


British artist based in Vernazza, Susie Barrow.

Susie Barrow is an English painter who lives in the mountains of the Cinque Terre National Park. She left Brighton for the village of Vernazza 16 years ago after falling in love with its raw, rugged nature. She has since dedicated her work to capturing the light, the colours and the movement of the sea, its wildlife and the beauty of the land that borders it. Riviera Insider spoke with Susie about what inspires her gorgeous underwater series.


RI: What is it about Liguria that attracted you?

SB: I love the natural beauty of Liguria, its simplicity and rustic feel. I adore nature so living in the countryside and yet being so close to the sea I feel really privileged to have the best of both worlds.


"Underwater world" Vernazza series, c. Susie Barrow

In your underwater series, you’re able to capture the rays of light coming through the crystal blue water and give a sense of the glistening sea. What inspired those images?

Early morning swims in the still waters of Vernazza's harbour first inspired me years ago to snorkel around the coast (sometimes being towed along on a rope by boat) and observing the colours, sea life and the bright rays of light that penetrated the water - illuminating everything in an almost heavenly way. The memory of that feeling of peace still fills me up now.

Seeing the bright sunlight sparkle on the sea seemed like 'dancing diamonds.' I use sand and gesso now to help create this effect.


"Swirling Haze" 50x100cm. c. Susie Barrow

How do you use the sand?

The use of sand creates depth, texture and interesting abstract effects when combined with other media (no brushes used). The inspiration to use it came from observing rocks, coral and natural patterns and designs created by the surface of crumbling stone house walls. I wanted to bring the sea to the viewer, connect and share it and seal it in the paintings.


Where do you get the sand?

I collect sand from the beach and footpaths, it’s my way of uniting the two together - land & sea.


What gives you the greatest inspiration to paint these scenes?

Whilst adjusting to my new life in Vernazza, the sea became a source of peace, tranquillity and nourishment. Regular early swims freely floating in silence in sync with the fish became a form of meditation for me. I've always been drawn to the sea -into its deep and mysterious depths. I have a lot of respect for it - the contrast it offers - from the peace and tranquillity to the force of its powerful waves.


Photo 1: "Camouflage" 100x100 cm; Photo 2: "Coraggio" 40x120cm; Photo 3: "Union" 80x80cm. C. Susie Barrow


Find Susie's vibrant, larger-than-life canvas paintings on her website: www.splashnflow.com

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