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August 13, 2018 - Charlotte Prichard

Get ready, this month Queen of colour Sue Kreitzman and stylist extraordinaire John William will be taking over our Brick Lane store for a fabulous exhibition, Divine Tchotchkes.

Earlier this week Sue invited us into her eclectic East London home to see them put the finishing touches to their vibrant art pieces. Sue's house is full of so many weird and wonderful pieces - it's like a museum in itself!

We discussed everything from outsider art to yonic pomegranates, from their friendship to what influences them - and most importantly what we can expect from the takeover...

Sue Kreitzman and John William

Hey Sue and John! So, Divine Tchotchkes - HOW do you say it and what does it mean?

Sue: It's 'chatch-ga'!

John: Sue is basically my Jewish art mother and over the years she's introduced me to so many old Yiddish words which I am obsessed with - my favourite one of all is Tchotchkes. It's one of those words that I think is often used in a derogatory sense and seen as bit naff. I love reclaiming those words that people give to things they see as no good. I'm all about reclaiming junk, reclaiming words.

S: Yiddish is an extremely colourful language that I grew up with - my grandmother never learned English so in my house my mother and grandmother always spoke Yiddish. Tchotchke means collage, bric-a-brac, junk and things that you collect. Both John and I fascinated and obsessed with stuff and we use it in our work. We'd turn anything into a Tchotchke!

J: We'd turn the Mona Lisa into a Tchotchke!

Divine Tchotchkes

How did you first meet and when did you start collaborating together?

S: It was actually through Tatty Devine, four years ago now.

J: The girls, Harriet and Rosie, gave me an exhibition catalogue for one of Sue's shows, 'Flashier and Trashier', because they knew I'd have a heart attack when I saw it and I did, and then I made it my mission to find Sue. It was a long time in the works!

S: John sent me an email saying 'Hello beautiful, let's make jewellery together. I think you're amazing." He mentioned Tatty Devine,  so I had a picture in my mind, I don't know why, of a tall, elegant, bearded gay man who was unbelievably dapper wearing tweed and a waistcoat. So not what he was. Why? I don't know, but it stayed in my mind and then I never heard from him again. Well not for a while anyway.

J: I'd been hoarding Sue in the back of my mind waiting for the right moment to contact her again, so I thought it would be a great chance to put her in the magazine I founded, Pigeons and Peacocks, so I pitched to Sue that I wanted to interview her and turn some models into her art. We were given the full Kreitzman spread with bagels, coffee...

S: I just gave him the run of the house. It was astonishing to see him in action, how he dressed his models like my art. I fell in love with the way John worked and I fell in love with him. We're very outrageous in our tastes, there is no holding back and when we work together it gets absolutely crazy.  Its very exhilarating.

Sue Kreitzman at work

What can we expect from your takeover?

S: Maximalism, odd spirituality, female power.

J: Multi-spiritual awakening, profound garbage and lots and lots of glitter. We want people to come into Tatty Devine, see the work and then run home in a frenzy to make art. Art nourishes you like nothing else.

S: To me art is like a drug. It keeps my happy, it keeps me hyper, it keeps me crazy in a good way. Anyone can make art out of anything.

Sue K

What do you both have planned next?

S: I'm writing a book on art clothing. I'll also have another show at The Blue Door Gallery, New York.

J: So, I'm working on my MA at the moment and I just hope to carry on relentlessly making art with and without Sue. And I hope that this year I'm going to get to New York with Sue and meet her New York art family. Plus Sue has promised me that when we go to New York we are going to go to the opera. So I'm waiting for my Pretty Woman experience.


Will we see you there amongst the Tchotchkes? Let us know by joining our Facebook event.

The exhibition runs in our Brick Lane store from 13th March - 12th April.

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