SUSAN Swain has never lacked creativity but it is thanks to a small island off Esperance that she returned to a childhood passion.
The Booragoon resident was an avid painter growing up but decided to apply her artistic ability to architecture.
She graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Utah, beginning an incredible career that took her across the world.
Despite her impressive resume, it could have all been so different.
“I was told by my drafting lecturer I couldn’t be there because I was a girl,” she said, remembering her time as a 12-year-old.
“So I was moved into the art class next door.”
She fought her way back into the class and progressed well over the next three years.
But it was not the last time she would have to win over an old-school authority figure.
In university she was asked to drop out to free up a spot for a male student and was essentially locked in her office after scoring a job as a city architect in El Jadida, Morocco early in her career.
Ultimately she was rewarded for her perseverance, forging paths through Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti, Zimbabwe, England and Australia where she worked on numerous projects, including the Yongergnow Australian Malleefowl Centre in Ongerup, WA.
Now retired, Swain has returned to painting.
She said it was a trip to Woody Island, off Esperance, that brought her back to doing what she loved as a kid.
“Woody Island is stunningly beautiful,” she said.
“There are no distractions. It’s such good down time.”
Swain will feature multiple pieces at the Alfred Cove Art Society’s 19th Awards of Excellence, running May 26 to June 4 at the Atwell Gallery on Canning Highway.
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