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New Artist Natalie Ryde: Interview

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We are so pleased to have join us at GAS emerging Artist Natalie Ryde. We caught up with her in her studio in Hackney Wick this week and interviewed her on her practice. 

You studied Jewellery at Art college - can you tell us what lead to your change in direction..

I studied Jewellery at Edinburgh College of Art which was quite a forward thinking and well respected course which had a strong focus on drawing.  The pieces i was making were often sculptural and I enjoyed transforming unusual materials through processes of dyeing, texturising, cutting.  I keep one of my head pieces in the studio which is constructed of knotted loops of synthetic brush bristles dyed in gradient colours.  It is very reminiscent of my drawings.  I actually wouldn't even say I changed direction as I spent as much time drawing and print making as I did making jewellery, I just didn't have time to do everything so abandoned making for a while.  I have actually just created a new series of jewellery for two galleries in Scotland!  The meshed line drawing process that is now my visual language stems from an unexpected revelation in about 2009 when our family were invited to visit luxury knitted lace manufacturers GH. Hurt in Nottinghamshire  No one had mentioned to me that our family had a a history in constructed textiles and to walk around the place where generations of my family worked was a revelatory experience.  I made a connection between this systemic drawing that I was compelled to do and the repetitive actions my ancestors employed to create knitted lace patterns.  In 2011 I created my first woven line drawing deliberating this potential deep set memory.  The meditative effect of the drawing and the intensity allows me to express the ideas that I was struggling to communicate before.


What is it that inspires the work that you are creating currently :

The pieces I am currently making suggest a vital energy or a thought process that hasn't found form in language.  They are a physical manifestation of feelings, ideas, urges which appear as undulating forms, vortices and amorphous swellings on the surface of the paper.  I often use broken patterns as the root framework of my drawings which on one level reference that disrupted craft lineage in my family but equally allow for open interpretations.  People find their own way into the drawings from their personal reference points.


Please tell us more about your working processes and how you reach the final result

People always ask me how long my drawings take.  They are intricate and it's clear to see they take time.  The length of time though is variable depending on the size and complexity of the piece and how much groundwork has gone into the conception and planning of the drawing which isn't as obvious to see on the surface.  They are planned and I don't like drawing for the sake of drawing, there has to be a reason for me to make these as otherwise they would just be meaningless to me.  I think you can tell when artists do that.  Having said that, once a drawing is underway and I have my guidelines set out, my mind enters its deepest phase of thinking and I can direct the composition and intensity to adapt to my thought process and outside influences such as the music I am listening to, events outside my own bubble and they way I feel about them, even my daily routine. 

What inspires your practice - is it any one thing or a sum of parts? 

I keep sketchbooks and do quite a lot of observational drawing and often these works lie at the root of my more abstract pieces.  They are often derived from the natural environment, especially remarkable things found on the forest floor or washed up on the beach on my frequent visits to Scotland where I grew up.  I talked before about broken patterns, a recurring theme in my work, a recent drawing came from a folded printed paper postcard bag which I kept for years without any clear reason, I just liked it.  I have other ephemera in the studio such as maps found in charity shops and fragments of old pottery.


How do you record your ideas and then translate to practice?

I record my ideas through drawing, photography and collecting. They are my amunition.  I tend to work on a series of ideas that I am trying to understand.  I start off with a hunch that I may be able to express something new and interesting, or old and tried but in a fresh way.  My last solo show The Way featured a variety of work that found common ground in the idea off knowing the path but taking detours.  Another show was bound by breaks in the expected pattern.  I suppose you could see them as chapters in a book or tracks on an album.  I use my source material to make faint guidelines in pencil over which I grow the line drawings.



What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life

I really need to keep going, I'm one of those artists who can't not make art.  Our studios in Hackney Wick are going to be demolished next year which is a real shame and it makes planning the future a little bit more difficult.  I hope I survive until my massive retrospective at the Tate so I can actually drink the Champagne and breathe a sigh of relief!

Do you have any favorite blogs you read?

No, I'm not really into blogs, I don't feel like I have time.  I tried to write one for a while but it was always outrageaously out of date.

Has there been any one big influence on your work? If so who or what?

I'm a real sum of my experience and this shows through in my various influences and source materials.  I don't look at artists who work in a similar way to me and try to avoid directly referencing others.  Frank Auerbach is a big hero of mine, it's about capturing that vital spark in a certain moment.  Maybe the one big thing is that I don't have one big thing to cling onto, my family are scattered, some more literally than others, I don't feel like I come from one place in particular. Maybe this is me casting my webs.