Solo Exhibit Natasha van Netten Coastlines
Natasha van Netten, PRINT project in process,
photo by Meghan Krauss
A Bit About The Artist
Topography, waterways, coastlines, marine life, and a deep connection to the West Coast are the foundations of Natasha van Netten’s creative expression. Whether they are paintings, sculptures, drawings or prints, the natural world is the connecting undercurrent. Whales have always been a source of artistic inspiration for Natasha. Throughout her career they have evolved from imaginative mental images to factual and data driven. In 2020, Natasha took up an art residency in Iceland and spent three weeks creating waterflow paintings and 3D whale drawings using wire. This body of work explores the natural world, time, climate, and a shared experience of place. It was from these wire pieces that Natasha began her current project: creating a wire sculpture of each member of the Southern Resident Orca community, both living and passed.
Natasha uses scientific data to identify each whale, its age, family history, and migration pattern. She incorporates marine research and spatial modelling with the artistic process to create a visual cetacean family history based on demographics and geography.
Undertaking printmaking was a natural progression for Natasha. As Natasha pointed out, you really get lost in the motion of carving, just like being on the water.
Natasha’s feature print “Aggregation: Inside Passage” combines a linocut relief print with a collograph embossing depicting the elevation of the waterways. The inked lino is first passed through the press and left to dry. The second plate is a collograph with elevation contours. Used on the second pressing, it embosses the contours onto the lino print. The result is a blind embossing that subtly highlights the West Coast deep water channels that are so heavily used by humans and sea life.
Digging deep into the [lino] plate is like digging into the earth carving out islands and channels
SUPERPOD, steel and arcrylic thread, installation size varies, 2019
An Interview with the Artist
PRINT: What is it about printmaking that you are drawn to?
Natasha: I work in a lot of different mediums and formats; drawing, wire sculpture, and painting. I find printmaking, particularly lino cutting, very raw. The digging deep into the plate is like digging into the earth carving out islands and channels which you could lose with the slip of your carving tool. My images explore negative and positive shapes, lines and spaces, and the printmaking process, which lends itself to working with the negative and positive imagery from landforms and waterways.
PRINT: Where do you get your inspiration?
Natasha: I was born and raised on the West Coast of British Columbia, I have always been attracted to the water and intrigued by the fact that I could not see whales but knew they were there. I have a deep interest in coastal landscapes and maps, because coastlines have a connection to the past, and maps are a visual language that are useful for exploring that past and present.
The coastal waterways and channels are vitally important to the movement and activities of humans, mammals, and other marine life, and that fascinates me. I have been integrating water, whales, and other marine life into my art practice for many years. In 2019, I travelled to New Zealand to work, and became aware of the endangered Hector’s dolphin. I created a body of work to bring awareness to the issue at that time, which has led to my current body of work.
PRINT: Can you share a bit about your feature print “Aggregation: Inside Passage”?
Natasha: This monochromatic, blind embossed linocut is informed by chartography and based on the channels, islands. and fjords of Wright Sound, located along the northern coastline of British Columbia. This piece is an impression of a 120 km by 85 km stretch of inner coastline around Princess Royal Island, along the route of the Inside Passage. These deep marine trenches are vital ecosystems to a wide variety of life, including many species of cetaceans, most commonly fin whales, humpback whales, and orca whales. Through this print I seek to highlight this remote yet busy marine waterway and bring attention to the many ways the Wright Sound is used. By combining blind embossing and linocut, I am able to layer two types of visual information: relief areas representing submarine topographical changes, and a graphic labyrinth of landmasses and waterways. Bordering on abstraction, this work plays with the push and pull of negative and positive shapes and considers what navigation could possibly be like from the perspective of a whale. I chose to contain the visual information within the submarine areas, leaving the landforms as dark, negative spaces—as if it were a map made for a whale.
Natasha van Netten, -61.339, 15.447 (Dominica), india ink and blind embossing on cut paper, 22 x 30 (detail image)
Aggregation: Inside Passage
In process at the PRINT studio