She works with the theatrics of performance in the context of visual art. Materials, objects and ideas are mined fervently; they run through the body of her work.
Surman is interested in how we live and experience the world through constraints and conditions around us – be it work, gender or age. The drive of the work is to explore and excavate these conditions, drawing on theatrical devices, process-based performance actions, feminist theories and contemporary culture.
She begins work with an innocuous fascination or a mild interest in an idea, object or action. She has a distinct aversion to understanding what might be going on until there is no choice in the matter. This live process marks out her practice.
Surman has had a continuous involvement in and commitment to the arts since 1995, although for some of that time she has also life-modelled, waitressed, assisted a magician, lectured, curated, acted, danced and raised the kids.
Since graduating with a degree in Visual Performance and Theatre from Dartington College of Arts, one of the only specialised courses in the UK, she has shown nationally and internationally, solo and collaborative work in performance, installation and video.
Past work has been commissioned by and seen at ICA London, CCA Glasgow, Bluecoat Arts Gallery, Tramway, National Review of Live Art, British Dance Edition, Chisenhale Dance, Hull Time Based Arts, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Halles de Schaerbeek, Brussels and more recently at Bradford Theatre in the Mill, Chelsea Theatre, Compass Live Art Festival and Juncture Festival, Leeds. Surman lectured on the Contemporary Performance Practice programme at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire until 2007 and was Associate Curator for performance at CCA Glasgow.