About Natasha Bird

23.06.2012 - 07.07.2012

I normally try to write something about each resident towards the beginning of their residency or before they go but with Natasha, things have been a little different. Natasha arrived expressing a desire for a period of very free experimentation, feeling that her studio practice in London had become somewhat the victim of her perfectionism, of a need to always make finished pieces. Her presentations of her work and the ideas that have inspired her to date threw up lots of questions and possible directions to explore.

As a result, we had many interesting discussions about strategies of production, about ways of entering the studio and approaching the blank page or space. The result was an amazing two weeks of very free experimentation, producing a large number of sketches in space.

The constants in Natasha's work are a concern with the forces and energies that make and animate a space. Thus, wires and string create tensions between different architectural elements in a room, seeming to probe the strength of their relationship. Weights hang off or push against elastics, still, motionless but always fixed with very basics means so that I, for one, can't help imagining the consequences of a log slipping, a knot coming undone or an elastic snapping.

Lines sub-divide rooms: again, very still. But these lines may be piano wires plucked by little cogs on motors so that the air in the two halves of the room hum and resonate, challenging the division. But even still lines, seem to affect the spaces around them in dynamic ways.

Natasha talked of her fascination with Brunel's tunnel under the Thames. Of how the intricate structures of scaffolding, bracing against the weight of the earth and the Thames above, had at times collapsed. She is particularly fascinated by the towers that had been built on the surface and then slowly sunk into the banks by excavating their foundations. In both cases, there is a sense of structures pushing against something ominous, creating a space against all odds.

Indeed, Natasha is more interested in older, victorian experiments teetering on the verge of failure than in modern, state-of-the-art engineering solutions. Perhaps this is why, the studio with its large creaking rafters was such a fertile ground of experimentation for her.

Equally, the tractor shed with its stash of used stakes from the vineyards and a find of old slate roof tiles proved irresistible. Her use of brightly coloured, almost fluorescent string only seems to emphasise the old, used quality of the other materials.

Her sculpture always has a slightly contingent feel and Natasha is very clear about her desire that they be 'honest', that is that they don't try to conceal the means of their making. In this and in the systematic nature of her work, she approaches the poetry of a scientific mode of enquiry, which was most apparent in the sketches she made of the mist and clouds rolling down the side of the Jura mountains outside her bedroom window, a series of works that seemed to open up a whole new set of possibilities and offered an interesting contrast to her more static installations.

Natasha has already talked of wanting to come back to develop some of these works further which means I can look forward to more discussions about the nature of Art, and how Art is enabled. And perhaps to more barbecues and caipirinhas, too...

More details of Natasha's work can be found on her website here.

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