I have the feeling sculpture is not really a common art form nowadays. There are a lot of graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, but you do not come across so many sculptors. Well that’s a shame. I just discovered the fantastic work of Natasha Cousens, and I’m telling you, she is a very talented artist. The first thing that strikes me is you can feel how sensitive she must be. Her art work is really outstanding and we are really proud to introduce you to her work .
KALTBLUT: Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
Natasha: I’m an artist originally from Hampshire in the UK, now currently living and working in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
KALTBLUT: How did you first become interested in Sculpting?
Natasha: I set up my studio and started sculpting only 4-5 years ago. However, I have always been creative in one way or another since an early age in various mediums. Although I am predominantly self taught as a sculptor, I completed a 1 year foundation art course at Portsmouth University in general Art and Design studies. After a gap year I then decided to complete a degree in Restoration and Decorative Studies, graduating in 2004. I discovered the delights of clay at some point during my studies there when making some encaustic inlaid floor tiles. Although my practice is quite far removed from the subject I studied, it gave me a taste of working with clay which I have now continued to explore, incorporating other materials to develop the work I am currently creating today.
KALTBLUT: Deer and rabbits are very present in your work. How come?
Natasha: I think they have a certain vulnerability and beauty. I am most drawn to animals of the field and forest and love the use of wildlife imagery in story telling, fairy tales and fables. I hope to play around with other animals of interest at some point though, but for the present time deer especially have been a main focus.
KALTLBUT: There is something very poetic in your sculptures.. What inspires you the most?
Natasha: Thank you. I read somewhere Grayson Perry said “I’m bored of looking at radical chic. That is actually quite ugly… Art has forgotten how to do beautiful a lot of the time….”. Maybe this idea is true for me a little too. I like to create beautiful things, delicate and magical, but I also enjoy the darker side of beauty too. My work is playful yet carefully constructed, populated by motifs of fauna and flora that resonate with me. My own narrative of thoughts expressed metaphorically through an assemblage of materials, colour and texture. I’m inspired by nature and fairy tale imagery. I’m also influenced by my interest in notions of the self, and the infinite beauty and depth of life.
KALTBLUT: Could you try to explain us, how is your creative process when you start a new piece.
Natasha: From my initial concept and sketches I research certain elements to help develop these aspects. I make small test pieces of certain elements of design too. I always try think ahead with planning and design in hope to preempt any possible problems. The clay work is done first, sculpted on an armature or backing board if needed. Then hollowed, reassembled, cleaned up and fired. Antler armatures, fibreglass, resin, wood or whatever other material processes are normally done after. The finishing process, such as assembling, sculpt fixings, and touch ups, happen along the way. I often work between two different sculptures at a time.
KALTBLUT: Looking closer at your work, we can see that there are a lot of details. How long does it takes you to realised of your sculpture?
Natasha: It’s all dependant on the size and complexity of design. My work can be quite labour intensive, and additional time is sometimes spent getting things done how I had planned. I think the longest I’ve taken on a piece is around 160hrs or so. Smaller less complex work however, may have only taken around 30-50hrs. This is only the noted hands on studio time, the real-time hours are far more when considering unaccounted time playing around with idea/ concept, design, research etc.
KALTBLUT: What materials do you use to realise those?
Natasha: I enjoy working with various materials as it gives me a wider scope to create the ideas I have. However, I work predominantly in clay and fibreglass. Clay is my primary love, but fibreglass gives me the freedom to fabricate more complex aspects of design that would be far more fragile or limited if made in ceramic. I also use materials such as wood, steel, aluminium wire, altered artificial flowers, textiles, oil paint, spray paints, beads, epoxy putty/ fillers…anything that suits the design and construction of the individual work itself!
KALTBLUT: How big are your sculptures?
Natasha: My sculptures vary in size, some are maybe 100cm or so in height or width overall. One I am currently working on is approx just over 100cm in width and will possibly be similar in height. Another one I am also currently working on is only 45cm in height roughly, which I guess is quite small me compared to usual.
KALTBLUT: Do you work based on pictures?
Natasha: Yes to an extent. I work from photographs to understand the shape and details of the subjects influencing the piece, but just for general form. The sculptures are not realistic, I may exaggerate certain features, proportions are not necessarily true to form. Pictures are just used as a guideline really so you can relate to it being a certain animal. I also work from roughly drawn noted sketches of ideas. But a lot of the sculpt is quite organic taking form just from playing with the materials…but in relation to original concept of design.
KALTBLUT: I can clearly see two different steps in the making of your pieces. The sculpting part and the painting and finalisation. Is there one that you prefer to do?
Natasha: There are many steps from beginning to end. I think I probably enjoy the clay sculpt most, and do enjoy painting them also. But really I like all aspects through to finalisation as it’s great to see the work progress at each stage to the reality of the finished piece. But yes, there can be times when I want to put off doing certain aspects of work, and at times where a process can be a little tedious, i.e sewing together the many bead drops for the sculpture Ghost seemed never ending. It depends on the work itself. In the same breath though, those tedious moments can also be quite relaxing to switch off to depending on my mood.
KALTBLUT: What are you working on at the moment?
Natasha: I’m currently working on two new sculptures that I briefly mentioned earlier. One consisting of three deer. Three sisters, the fates if you will. To be adorned with a threaded lacey cascade. The other of a pinky pastel rabbit with quite fabulously grown ears…but unfortunately with a rather prickly grasp……
Interview by Nicolas Simoneau