We are proud to publish this article on artist Natasha Wills for the launch of our new feature category Sistas on Art. For more information Sistas on Art see Artgaze Special Features
For Natasha Wills, art is a means and expression of finding freedom, both personally and societally. A seriously prolific artist for the past nine years, Natasha has accrued multiple grants, prizes and an extensive list of exhibition showings. Deploying a variety of mediums in her art, Natasha’s work exudes feminine vibes, and conjures deep emotive reactions from the onlooker. Since childhood, art has been a cathartic channel to abate sensory overwhelm.
Natasha reasons that art keeps her world lighter, and more bearable. “I remember going on fishing trips with my dad and brother, finding these clay spots on the river bank; I’d sit for hours sculpting little shapes and creatures,” she says. “I’ve been scribbling on paper for as long as I can remember. Being a highly anxious and awkward kind of person, I was drawn to art as a way of getting out what I couldn’t articulate in other ways. It’s essentially problem solving. Providing space for questions to come up and then addressing them through art.” This emotive compulsion is governed by a serious work ethic and persistent nature.
Showing up to create her work regardless of how inspired she might be feeling, is what propels Natasha’s progression. “My practice is pretty organic, the materials show me where to go. One mark will inform the next, and then there is this kind of growth happening. It can sometimes be a struggle, but often the works that put up a fight turn into the most successful pieces.”
Natasha’s growth as an artist is being felt keenly at present as she undergoes more research based practices. Delving into art history and philosophy is expanding her take on how she approaches her vocation and passion. “I don’t want to over intellectualise my work, but over the past year I’ve been starting to see the value of asking myself why I make art and what it means to me. My process is really intuitive and focuses on materials and how I’m feeling at the time.”
“I try to keep a sense of honesty and originality and hope I’m building my own visual language. The past few years I’ve really dived into abstraction; colour has become more important and prominent. I’ve become more painterly, relying less on drawing, which is really the skeleton of my practice, and relying less on charcoal as it is my comfort zone.”
The desire for freedom comes up again and again in her narrative, which defy constraint and hint to a courageous woman under the self-proclaimed awkwardness. “I want to break my own conventions as much as possible. For me that is an important part of being an artist, challenging my own assumptions and perspectives, it’s totally necessary to grow and progress,” she claims.
As far as her inspirations go, a varied environment mixed with magpie-like collecting habits keep fresh ideas flowing, “Whatever I’m reading or watching or listening to at the time seeps into my work. I do a lot of walking wherever it is I happen to be living, and collect little things I find in the street, which often find their way into my work. Or, I just take in the changing light, looking at shadows on the footpath and hearing the sounds.”
Natasha adds, “I’ve been looking at a lot of work on Instagram lately, it’s a great platform to discover people doing amazing, weird and wonderful things. And I’m an image hoarder, so I have this database of imagery I can go to. I may just see a new colour or different shapes that resonate with me at the time.”
When asked about the future of her art, Natasha has a vision surely to be realised as it is augmented by her amazing tenacity and clear talent. “Art is something I have to do. For me it really is a core part of my life, and I need to do it to stay healthy. I see my work evolving and changing as I do, but I feel much more content with my place and where I’m headed.”
“I haven’t had a solo exhibition in a few years, and I’d really like to make that happen again soon,” she muses, “I’d love to be represented by a gallery in the future, and having a nice big studio would be lovely. But in saying that, I was thinking the other day what a privilege it is to be able to make art, you know? To have access to paint and materials, and space and time to make things. I feel like it is a total indulgence and that I’m so lucky to just be able to make it work.”
To see more of Natasha’s work and keep up with her next exhibitions, make sure to drop by her website Natasha Wills. images: Acrylic & mixed media on paper, Natasha Wills 2016.
words/interview Samantha Mant
Samantha Mant is the marketing editor as well as contributor for Artgaze magazine. She is also a Naturopath and has been published in many online magazines. You can check out more of Sami’s writing at her website The Holistic Branch.