An Interview with: Natalie Wardle
Tell us a bit about yourself - from where do you hail, and what does your work address?
I’m a visual artist living in Manchester but originally from Bradford. My work looks at how women constrict their bodies to fit in with society’s ideal body types, exploring shape wear, make up and tape that is placed over nipples to both cover and repress their form.
When I first saw you speak of Control Pants Symphony in 2015 as a recent graduate, the event was hosted by Redeye. Could you offer us a little insight in to your experience from a students’ perspective - what are the benefits of being actively involved with a photography network such as Redeye?
I was really lucky to have had redeye approach me when I recently graduated as they gave me so much exposure through their website and from the talk at Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery. They really do look for new emerging talent from people who have just graduated what is so important to anyone trying to make it as an artist or photographer as it is hard to get the exposure.
From after the talk you saw me in I done a second talk in Manchester as part of Hothouse then held my own member-led event that I hope to do again. All this I approached Redeye with as I wanted to be an active member, and feel that it is so important to any current student or graduate trying to make to become active with a network. The more you put in, the more you will get out.
What common mistakes can you look back on from over your academic years?
As cheesy as it sounds, my biggest mistake was not believing in myself and letting bad grades get to me. Art is hard to judge and label with a grade. I never was the top of the class when it came to grades but I never stopped trying. If you want to make it as an artist/photographer you just need to keep going at it as it’s a really critical world out there.
As part of academic study, many students are encouraged to undertake work experience, internships or residencies to nourish their practice. Post-graduation you were an artist in residence at a Canadian naturist park, where you filmed pieces such as Control vs Nature and Pant Fling.
What would you say you learned through sheer creative freedom as an artist in residence that may not have been possible as an undergrad?
Doing my artist residency in Canada was by far the best experience of my life (to date). I got to finally make work I wanted to make without the pressure of whether I was going to only get a 2:2 for it. We did have group critiques at the residency to help eachothers’ development whilst there however it was nothing like university and was a lot more empowering. I recommend for anyone to go on a residency as it really does help your art practice. You also get to meet the most amazing artists, all with completely different backgrounds and at different stages in their career.
Pant Fling was recently screened at Manchester’s Home movie theatre, as one of some fifteen exhibitions since graduating. What would be your advice to current students and recent graduates to stay focused once the academic season’s over?
Keep applying for exhibitions, funding, art awards etc and be as proactive as possible in getting your work out there. Every week I’m looking for things to apply for and out of the 100 things I’ve applied for I may only get one but it’s all ok and nothing to do with your work, just a lot of people are in the same position and the curator has a vision. Sometimes you fit it and other times you don't. Being rejected isn’t a negative thing.
And finally, can you give us details on any upcoming projects or works-in-progress? What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Currently I’m being commissioned by Random Acts North (Tyneside Cinema, True North, HOME, funded by Arts Council England) to develop Control Pant Symphony, which was my degree show project. I’ve been developing the project since graduating where I’ve had the pleasure of showing it around the country at different galleries and also preforming it live at the Cooper Gallery, Dundee.
So I go in to production in November/December with them and then I should have a three-minute art piece by the end of December that will be sent to Channel 4 to then hopefully appear as part of their program Random Acts. I’ll then see where that art piece takes me!
I’m also on the Judging panel for the Residency I attended in Canada in 2016 which is super exciting. This is how to apply for residency - www.nakedstate.ca/apply/