AN AWARD-WINNING artist spent three years creating a 44-panel streetscape concertina masterpiece of Peebles High Street.

And during a further year she added a 10-panel concertina view, from Tweed Bridge, to the magnum opus.

In addition, throughout her mammoth effort, Susan Mitchell, 55, was in constant pain from replacement hip operations and a broken femur.

She said: “Doing the concertina got me through a challenging time and took me to another place where the pain did not exist.”

Susan has worked as an artist for 33 years since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in 1991 and has spent most of that time in Peeblesshire, first at Sunnyside Farm, near West Linton, and latterly in Caledonian Road, Peebles, where she has a studio.

The artist, who was born in Drumelzier, originally trained in tapestry but, after her daughter Lorne was born part way through her ECA course, switched to painting and drawing.

Susan, whose maiden name is Veitch, said the concertina oil painting, which will be displayed at the Chambers Institute on a five-year loan contract, is a culmination of all her experience, a huge love of Peebles and the result of two unique pieces of inspiration.

She said: “A congenital dislocation of my hips was noticed when I was three-and-a-half and I spent much time a tummy trolley.

“This gave me a unique view of the world and I used to fan out Ladybird children’s books in a semi-circle on the floor in front of me.”

In addition, during a three-year stint at Leith School of Art between 2015 and 2018, Susan saw another artist’s concertina painting from Antarctica.

Susan said: “Seeing the (Antarctica) concertina was like a lightbulb moment and I realised I could do something like it on my doorstep.”

The concertina panels were cut from thick cardboard and held together with carpet tape, and with her tapestry training she added pieces of scrim to give texture.

Susan, who in 2009 won the John Gray award from the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, said: “I mixed up my own oil bar using turps, linseed oil and beeswax and oil colours.

“There are many layers of paint on each panel which give it a depth that watercolour does not have.

“At galleries I have seen how artists play with perspective to make buildings big in one section and smaller in another.

“It has taken 30 years to feel confident to make something like the concertina work.”

Due to the protracted nature of the work and painting in different conditions day by day, Susan has also collected a sample of weather.

She said: “Whenever I was painting ‘in situation’ it had to be good days but the famed ‘sunnyside’ of the street has turned out dark and the opposite side is lighter.”

For location work, known by artists as ‘en plein air’, it was quite a logistical challenge with a specially-adapted easel, paints and needing somewhere nearby to park the car.

During the span of years some features of the High Street have changed and Susan captured her scene when the Tatler Café, although empty for many years, still had its sign.

Susan said: “Forsyths is the biggest shop in the painting and is in part a homage to my granny who I visited in Peebles and sent me to the butchers for her meat.”

Susan said she loves the fact that the concertina looks like a book and opens out to a mini-High Street you can walk along.

She said: “I knew the concertina had to be housed somewhere.

“When Peter Maudsley, of Peebles Community Council, started the process of the Chambers Institute having it on loan it lifted something from me.”

Susan added: “I wanted to create a piece of art that has a three-dimensional quality and it is wonderful to see people relate to it and take time to engage.”