An interview with Natasha Todd – an Edinburgh based artist who graduated with first class honours from Duncan of Jordanstone.
Natasha Todd – Colibri I
Acrylic paint on wood.
It’s been an interesting journey – lots of fun and a steep learning curve. Suddenly you’re on your own after being surrounded by other art students. I’ve had to be more motivated and create my own structures to ensure I spend enough time in the studio, whilst keeping body and soul together. Staying in touch with social media is important – which of course is how you found me! In my last year of art school I was developing my practice and not really thinking about what to do once I left. It took receiving the DJCAD painting prize and getting really positive feedback about my degree show, to believe more in myself. In fact, my first commissions were from the student union as a direct recommendation from one of the Professors and a visitor to the degree show.
Hula is my first opportunity to curate fifteen pieces of work in this kind of setting, which was really exciting. I enjoyed the challenge of keeping the harmony amongst the paintings as the series grew. This was different from submitting existing work to shows, such as Royal Scottish Academy Annual Open, even though that was a great honour. Aiming for a solo show is a good way of being aware of everything around you and getting on with it! I studied in France at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, which was a fantastic experience. All types of venues were turned into pop up art spaces, for vernissages almost every night, which opened my mind to so many other possibilities.
Although I am inspired by how a city can be defined by its architecture, capturing the essence of the city through all the senses is really important to me. The colour, shapes , sights and sounds of Edinburgh stimulate my sense of being and belonging to my home city. There are always new ways of seeing familiar buildings. I love visiting other cities and deciding straight away on the colour palette for that place and then asking myself the same question when I leave.
Connected Cities was based on capturing the essence of London, Edinburgh and Dundee from memory and my personal connection to them, so, for that collection, I decided on the background colour and went from there. I spend a lot of time walking around in order to keep my ideas fresh and pretty much always see a triangle in something! I used to have my camera with me a lot of the time to record forms, colours, angles and so on but now I like the challenge of drawing those compositions from memory.
For pieces in my new series, such as Spring I – VI, I sketched a lot before deciding on the final composition and then I drew that design onto the board. But even then the final outcome changes from my initial idea. I like that. You never know when it’s going to be finished or how it will turn out.
Natasha Todd – Spring VI
2014, Acrylic paint on wood (23 x 23 x 3 cm).
Painting over edges and around corners was something I began to do when I was commissioned to do a wall mural. Working on a much rougher brick surface was challenging, and so is printing but in different ways. I think it’s important to work in more than one medium, so I do some screenprinting, as one will often enhance the other, either way I can take inspiration from both. But yeah I do miss the physicality of boards when I’m behind a press, as I feel at this point in time I can interact more with my boards than paper.
Natasha Todd – Dundee Tay
Acrylic on Wood painting. 100cm x 100cm (40″ x 40″).
Henri Matisse’s Snail is a piece I always refer back to, I used to visit Tate London when I was really young and the scale and simplicity of it has always stuck with me. I love Toby Paterson’s work. Street Art, particularly Swoon, has influenced me a lot because of the ethereal nature of it. I try not be too precious about my work and focus on the process as much as the outcome. I also take a lot of influence from architects such as Zaha Hadid.
This is such a hard question to answer! I would love to go to Arizona and see the Frank Lloyd Wright house. As he said of that site, “we have to build here, it’s pure abstraction wherever you look.” But you could say that about so many other places so I want to keep travelling. In fact, I just finished a piece based on a recent trip to Cavalaire Sur Mer, in the South of France. Once I’ve visited or lived in anywhere I connect with it always stays with me.
Natasha Todd’s paintings were on show at Hula Juice Bar in Edinburgh in September 2014.