Suzanne van Gils
Resin Artist + Surfer
My name is Zee and I am a self-taught artist. Four years ago, after graduating,
travelling and working, I left my home in The Netherlands and moved to Australia to
visit one of my best friends and to reconnect with my creative side. I then travelled
to Lombok, Indonesia to make one of my dreams come true; learning to surf.
“I’m proud to collaborate with a brand that focuses on sustainability, functionality and quality.”
Art has immersed me into a whole new world of exploration and opportunities. I am so excited to collaborate with Monique; a fellow Dutch creative who gave up her safe and conventional life to pursue her passions. The idea that other women will be wearing my artwork is definitely a dream come true for me as an artist. I’m proud to work with a brand that focuses on sustainability, functionality and quality. With a few colour suggestions from Monique, I created a super girly piece with plenty of layered ocean-like textures. “The Sea Lovers” print will be turned into an eco surf bikini around March 2019.
On this little island, I clearly remember the realisation of finally feeling at peace. I didn’t feel like I had to be somebody else or hold myself back in any way. I didn’t look in a mirror for three weeks, I barely touched my phone and I was learning, trying, falling and trying again. I was HAPPY. And perhaps because I was not looking for any romance at all – I was too busy focusing on learning to surf all day – I fell in love for the first time.
After a year of doing long distance, I packed my bag once again and moved to Lombok. For the following three unforgettable years, I lived ‘the simple life’ with my partner. In a small wooden cabin on the hill surrounded by lush jungle, overlookingthe bay where we surfed almost every day. I managed a cafe, worked as a surf photographer and surfboard artist at the same time to get by. I had my little crew of motivating surf sisters and brothers whom I experienced some magical sessions with.
It wasn’t all picture perfect though; the ‘road’ in the village turned into a mud bath during monsoon season, it often rained in our bed, we had cockroaches, snakes, rats and monkeys as pets, dealt with long power cuts and the first year and a half there was no internet, to name a few examples…
” It was raw, real, rough, but exciting. I felt alive.”
not giving up!
Being on local Indo wages, spending a ton of money on anything other than food, petrol and transport to the surf spots wasn’t really an option. But for some reason there was this raging adrenaline in my gut that told me to go for it.
I spent my year’s salary to invest in materials. Half of it then got ruined due to the humid climate and Indonesian Customs.
I was broke and had to borrow money to pay for my health insurance when I was 26 years old… (thanks mum!)
At the time I was the only one on the island trying this type of art; there was nobody to ask for advice, no art stores, not even a factory that sold the wood that I needed to make painting panels. The closest city was a three-hour drive and had very limited options. I had confused locals laugh at me on a daily basis when I tried to explain my plan. So in the end I had to import everything from overseas, and it took nine months to arrive because the unpaved ‘road’ I lived on didn’t have a street name. I accidentally covered my bedroom floor in resin, almost set my wooden house on fire and I wasted hundreds of pounds experimenting with this medium to find the techniques and textures that I wanted to achieve.
But I just could not stop.
Besides resin, a big love of mine is turning surfboards and skate decks into “Rideable Art”. Working for Banyu Surfboards in Lombok gave me the perfect platform to express myself by doing custom designs on their boards. I can spend hours getting lost in little details, blending colours and painting florals.
When art is life
My resin art on the other hand, teaches me to let go of control and perfectionism, because usually the unplanned sections turn out to be my favourite. Resin is a crystal clear and free-flowing liquid, creating depth in solid form. Layering textures and colours and observing the chemical reactions that occur during the process, make the time and my surroundings disappear… kinda like surfing does.
In June this year I had my first exhibition in Perth, Australia and I have recently made a new base in Cornwall, UK where I can give my art my full attention and keep surfing.
Follow her adventures on Instagram | @UNDERTHEZEE