Susie Leiper studied at the University of St Andrews and the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her interest in calligraphy and painting grew out of an editorial career specialising in books on Chinese art and archaeology. A lengthy spell as a scribe on Donald Jackson’s Saint John’s Bible led to a flourishing of her own work. She is a Fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators, works freelance in Edinburgh and has a longstanding involvement with a painters’ group run by Paul Keir. As well as regularly exhibiting across the UK, Susie has fulfilled a growing number of special commissions including painted architectural inscriptions (Museum of Edinburgh, 2012 & Springfield Church, Fife, 2019, Benjamin Tindall Architects) and commemorative panels (Middle and Inner Temple, London, 2008; St Cross College, Oxford, 2015). Public collections include: British Museum, London; Edinburgh College of Art; Edinburgh and Lothian Healthcare Foundation; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh; National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh; Royal Collection; V&A Dundee.
“Behind my work lies a passion for mountains: Scotland’s Munros, the French Pyrénées and the sacred mountains of China. Serendipity is always thrilling. Why in 2012 did I suddenly land a large commission to be written in Scottish Secretary Hand? When first approached, I had absolutely no idea of the context: a mystery commission for which I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement! However, ever since taking a course at the Scottish Records’ Office in 1998 on how to read Secretary Hand, I have been experimenting with writing and drawing the hand, so I therefore jumped at the opportunity. Months after writing the lines by Sorley MacLean, I learned that they were to appear on the back of the new RBS polymer £5 note (commissioned as part of The People’s Money project with Nile design agency). The note includes a portrait of Nan Shepherd (whose work I have loved for years) with a quotation from her book The Living Mountain on the front. I was elated!”