Special Guest ~ Interview

Natalia Millman

Conceptual Artist

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Introduce yourself with one sentence about why you are passionate about art.

I feel the abundance of profound power within me that is meant to be released and touch others through my visual art.

 

What media do you work in?

I work with different mediums, including painting, mixed media, video, photography and sculpture. My latest body of work primarily consists of items I found abandoned on  building sites. I love assembling them into something new, giving them another meaning. I am looking to explore the power of language as always been interested in linguistics and poetry.

 



 

How long have you been working as an artist?

As a child I have always been interested in art creating  birthday cards and posters for school shows. My parents enjoyed painting and drawing and we always had brushes lying around although art school was not on the agenda. Having witnessed hardships in Ukraine when I was growing up ( communism and its collapse), my family wanted me to support myself with good education and career and being an artist was not one of them. I joined weekly art class when my kids were old enough as a search for my other self. Becoming a mother is the most precious gift but it slightly dims your true identity, so I had to do some digging. I have always been keen on learning and this course taught me new techniques and boosted my confidence. In 2019 I was invited to join Studio Fridays, a platform for emerging artists that offers mentoring. This was a different level that I was ready for. I had to delve deep into a simple question “Why am making art?” This triggered lots of other follow up questions that I am exploring now.            

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What is your latest project about?

My latest body of work is exploring grief, loss and the impact of dementia, in particular memory loss, transformation through ageing and the stigma of tis illness. This project serves as a healing mechanism for my recovery from grief and also a means to raise awareness about the realities of dementia. I have learnt a lot about the scientific and emotional side of it and my show Vanishing Point is the result of my research and coming to terms with the loss, healing through my work and finding hope.    

Do you have a studio space (if so describe it)?

I am lucky enough to have a studio in my garden in peaceful Hertfordshire, with beautiful trees surrounding it and sending me positive vibes. My front window is floor to ceiling and opens up the view of the sky! The studio space is cluttered, and I regularly tidy it up as lots of my materials are bulky. Here you can see bricks, tree trunks, pipes, nails and maggots ( they are dry!). My first ritual when I enter my studio is to light a candle and take a deep breath.    


Why did you choose this?
This project has grown from my personal loss when my dad passed away three years ago from dementia. The process was painful while he was passing and after when grief entered my heart. I have been trying to understand how he must have felt, what happens in the afterlife, what is the meaning of it all. The more I thought about death, the more I started valuing life.  I felt enormous power to channel my energy and artistic creativity and speak up about this illness, how vulnerable old people are, how they need our love and support. Older people are often forgotten and denied by society that tends to turn away from vulnerability and discomfort. They are reminders though that we all get old. I am looking to highlight the fragility of life and make the audience notice it and contemplate their own life journey. Every piece takes a bit of my grief away and connects me to his soul. Through this work, he has been guiding me. I am so excited that my exhibition Vanishing Point takes place October 6-10 in the Crypt Gallery, London and my art will see the world.  

 

What do you find hardest?

Staying patient with the process. I am often expecting too much of myself and my work. Sometimes it takes much longer to achieve the needed result. Acknowledging mistakes on the way and embracing them, learning from them is crucial.  Imposter syndrome is whispering in my ear regularly. Hearing it but not letting it enter my heart is vital. Remaining authentic and shifting back to my goal are at the top of my daily to do list.   

 
What do you do to make and expand your artist network – especially during these challenging times?

Being connected with myself is very important but connecting with other artists is one thing that artists can’t live without. We create art to share it and not to put in the cupboard so letting it out into the world, speaking about it, promoting it is crucial. I enjoy learning about other artists’ work though Instagram and Podcasts. It helps me connect and learn what else is in the world. I enjoy listening to creatives sharing their life stories. It helps me re-check my goals and confirms that making mistakes is OK. I find it powerful to connect with other organisations and charities that work with dementia and artists who work with topics that interest me.     

How did you discover Better Together artist collaborative?

I stumbled over Better Together when I was researching platforms that support emerging artists. This is a great community of creatives who connect through their differences and can share their work both online and onsite. It is a positive and accepting environment where artists can share their stories. 

   
What is your major goal as an artist?

My goal is to stimulate conversations through my art, to raise awareness about issues I work with and make the audience feel the energy I project into my pieces.     

What are your Influences/Research?

I enjoy reding so any book on grief and loss or generally about history of art are on my coffee table. I learn about scientific side of dementia through articles and by participating in events. My most favourite thing is to go to a gallery, and I see art. I am the one who usually stands too close to a piece, studying it in detail! Tracy Emin, Berlinde De Bruyckere. Yoko Ono - those who I closely connect with.

Where are you based?

I am based near St Albans, Hertfordhire in a beautiful little village enwrapped in glorious nature.  
 

Artist Natalia Millman 
Art Work ~ Natalia Millman 
Interviewer ~ EK Gerdin-Miosga BEM

 

What do you enjoy most about your art?

Definitely- making, putting pieces together. I love having an idea and seeing it becoming real, either on paper or as a sculpture.  I think this is true magic. I find it fascinating how internal can become external. I also believe in chance when something unique can appear when you least expect it.

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Describe the Techniques/Tools/materials you use

Rags and glue and my favourite tools when I work with mixed media or canvas. I enjoy using the whole body when painting, following the flow. I like elongating my brush and attaching a stick to its end making the movement less controlled. My canvases are also frequently upside down which gives me another perspective when I am stuck! In my sculptures, I always use hair as a symbol of ageing, wire and bricks. The contrast between soft and rough is powerful.  I would like to use more charcoal and ink as both are flowing materials and create subtle blurry mysterious marks.

 
Delving deeper - why do you make your work?

To learn, understand myself, to help others, to leave a mark in this world, to make my story heard, to be me, to live.

What is your Future vision?

To build my knowledge, experiment more, work hard, learn from my mistakes, collaborate with other creatives, expand my self-belief and reach many peoples’ hearts.

“Grief Letter” is an ongoing community-based project where people can share their personal experience of loss and grief in a form of a letter. Each letter will be included in the installation, helping to promote grief support and highlight the role of carers and elderly in society. 

This concept grew out of my own experience of loss, coping with grief and finding light ahead.

 

To take part in “Grief Letter” or learn more, please contact me via email info@nataliamillmanart.com or IG @nataliamillmanart to receive a free pack with instructions. Spreading the word among your friends, your local community and on social media will help this project benefit as many people as possible. 

 Visit https://www.nataliamillmanart.com/griefletter