I hadn't seen Susie for 35 years. We were friends for a few months in the spring and summer of 1975. She was an art student at Oxford - American, exuberant, enjoying life. I was a shy, long haired first year undergraduate.
This photo of Susie - from just the time I got to know her - was taken by Leslie, her inseparable friend that Oxford summer. 'It's totally art directed. We noted the lovely afternoon sun coming in and quickly posed Susie with her sketchbook and draped my scarf over her shoulders.'
The setting was Leslie's bedsit on Walton Street. 'Suz and I both loved this picture', Leslie recalls, 'because it captured our feelings about the sweetness of meeting and getting to be a couple of wayward American art students in Oxford. It looked nostalgic even when it was newly developed.'
I got in touch with Susie again through Leslie, and a chance internet search. We exchanged a few e-mails - never met, never spoke. But the connection was there. There are moments when you are young - friendships, adventures - that stay with you. Susie stayed with me.
Leslie sent this photo of Susie a few days ago - taken in 1978. It captures her well, tho' it's a slightly more reflective Susie than the lively woman I remember.
You may have sensed by now why I am writing. Susie died last week at her Maryland home, with her partner, Chas, and her oldest friend at her side.
I mourn her passing and remember her with huge warmth and affection.
LATER: a website has been set up - the link's here - with a selection of Susie's art, and videos and remembrances.
And I am adding a photo of Susie from her year in Oxford which really does capture her - taken just outside the 'Lamb and Flag'.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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