In the build up to our Winter Exhibition we catch up with emerging abstract artist Natalie Surridge to talk about the process and conceptualisation of her work.
What drives you to paint?
It is my form of self-preservation, a way of leaving a mark; a sort of visual diary.
So when you are gone you hope for your art to be your stamp on the world?
Exactly, everyone wants to leave behind a legacy and I think art is my way of attempting that; to travel back along my own timeline and re-live if only temporarily past events. Then what remains is the art piece, made in the act of remembering.
Take us through your creative process from start to finish.
It usually begins with triggering a memory, I try and record or be very conscious of when I’m having a flashback or recalling something, where and when it is occurring and why. Looking back at photographs is always influential, my family have a large collection of photo albums and I use theses a prompts. The colours I use reflect the mood of the memory, and often mimic the actual aging paper of a photograph; sepia tone and black and white of course are very nostalgic.
What materials do you work with?
Mainly acrylic paint as it can be used to so many different effects, I pour it over the canvas in thin flowing layers but also enjoy how you can build it up thickly and it becomes almost sculptural. I also make mixed media pieces from making my own form of Paperclay; which is a mix of ripped up paper, glue and binding material. I like to use materials that were once fragile and transform them into something more permanent.
How long does it normally take for you to do a painting?
Thinking about it can take a while, especially if I’m focusing on a particular memory. After mixing the paints or material, the actual making is fairly quick and spontaneous. Apart from the drying process, which can take up to a week!
Where did you study?
I did my Foundation course in London at the Camberwell Collage of Arts, UAL. I grew up in London and wanted to venture out of my familiar surroundings to somewhere new, so I then went to Norwich University of Art and did a BA in Fine Art. I was surrounded by peers and tutors who massively inspired me and influenced not only my art practice but me as a person.
When did you first realise you wanted to be an artist?
It wasn’t so much a realisation as more something I always wanted to be, I did a lot of colouring with my mum as you did when you were a child, but have one distinct memory of being in Nursery School and a teacher said to me that I was good at Art and that was it! There was no other choice for me.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
It’s hard to pick as I think what influences your work changes depending on what you are exploring in that moment. I do love the Impressionists, all of them! They were my first loves, mainly Monet and how soft focused his paintings are.
I was obsessed with Anselm Kiefer in my third year of University, his treatment of his sculptures using an alchemic process to turn something temporary into something more permanent, I think that is what I am trying to do with my artwork. I am trying to capture memories and preserve them in a state of transition between being remembered and forgotten. My more recent works are influenced by Abstract Expressionism
I think because it captures how I am feeling in the moment when I am making the work. The process is never quite finished and is always in a state of flux. Abstract can also be a great emotive way of expressing what is going on in your mind without having to say it out loud. Sometimes you do not even realise yourself how you are feeling about a particular memory until after it has materialised in the work. It can make sense of things.