Tuesday, 24 July 2018

 We hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful sunshine around the U.K this week. We’re on a mini break to beautiful but rainy Greece and today, we’re bringing you our 20th Artist Feature! Hooray! It’s another super special one, as today we’re talking to the fabulous Nettle Grellier. 

Nettle graduated from Brighton University in 2015, and has recently returned to the U.K. after two and half years spent painting in Spain where she exhibited in Barcelona, and ran a residency for artists: ‘Los Artistas del Cortijo’. The artists, selected by Nettle and her boyfriend George, needed a place to live and work after graduating that was both affordable and offered a supportive community. Nettle currently lives in a crazy converted green lorry with George and their two dogs. 

Hi Nettle! Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do and how you would describe your work? 
My name is Nettle Grellier, I paint using oils, and also do some printmaking. 

That sounds incredible! When did you start creating art?  
I was very lucky to grow up in a household full of art making - both my parents are artists, so it's a bit like going into the family business!

Talking of family, a lot of your work depicts domestic settings. Would you say that you try to embed recurrent themes in your work?
I am always drawing on the intimate moments spent with people I know to create a narrative that is hopefully familiar to any viewer. I believe the kitchen table is a strong base to explore human relationships, and so is the sofa.

My work feeds off contact with other individuals. I have moved around a lot and I see home as a set of moments and interactions rather than one specific space. I want my paintings to show the intimacy of my own life whilst being familiar to the viewer.

I do not wish to present a view of life that is completely serious or humorless, even when trying to deal with intense and life changing experiences. I like the titles to be conversational, little snippets of a story or funny anecdotes. Sometimes the descriptions are quite cumbersome and awkward which satisfies me. I use objects to tell the story; food, books, furniture and ceramic objects made by my friends act as props for describing the nature of home and relationships.

How is your personality reflected in your work?
I love to read books that fall into the category of magical realism; authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Tom Robbins, etc, and I tend to paint primarily realistic and familiar scenes with a skewed or flattened perspective and garish colour, romanticising the event and adding elements that might be a bit fantastical. Sometimes I just put the book into the painting as a reference.
Many of my paintings are based around the kitchen table, because I am very driven by a need to feed and nurture and I'm often pushing food on people, also because it is a great setting for creating a narrative based on home and relationships, which I am very driven by those things.

Where do you get inspiration from?
I'm very lucky to have so many wonderfully creative friends and family who's work I can surround myself with for inspiration.  My (also a painter) boyfriend George Lloyd-Jones and I live in a converted Lorry so we have minimal space but always make room for a big collection of art books and fiction, music playing devices and records, and beautiful things made by people we love.
Walking is also very important for me, I go out everyday with our dogs to get space from my work and to really have a good look around me.

Who are your favourite artists? 
Mary Fedden, Gaugin, Frida Khalo, Vanessa Bell.
I'm really enjoying seeing work by contemporary artists such as Sanam Khatibi, Chica Seal, Antonia Showering, Igor Moritz.. these are just the ones popping into my head, there's many many more!

Which is more important to you, the original concept behind the work, or the way it is executed?  
Chicken and egg! It depends on whose work your looking at and why they are making it. I think it used to mainly be about paint for me, and the objects I painted were just nice vehicles to explore the ways in which you can manipulate the material. However portraiture was always somewhere alongside this and I had a different relationship to the paintings I did of people. Now I am trying to match the paint and the narrative and give neither thing more importance. Mind you, I don't exactly make work that is conceptually challenging but I am starting to want more from it. As I learn to articulate how I feel about the world my desire to use art as a storytelling medium is becoming stronger.

Do you think Art is a good medium for questioning politics, society, gender issues and the like? 
Yes I do. I recently saw a Ted Talk by Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie where she explains the danger of one single story. She was talking about fiction, but of course it applies to any form of art. What she explained was that if you have only one narrative (in this context it was a white American narrative about African people being "unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind white foreigner") then that perception is in danger of becoming a truth. Art has the power to tell many different stories and therefore allows us to represent and empower humanity in all of its forms.

Thanks so much for talking to us! One last thing, do you have anything exciting coming up in the near future?
We've just had applications accepted for some wonderful studios in Cornwall at an arts organisation called Krowji, so we will be moving to cornwall in the next couple of weeks! I am really looking forward to being a part of a creative community again after a few months spent working in an isolated studio on a lovely farm in Gloucestershire.

I am always applying for competitions so we shall see what comes up, I've just had a show in London so I'm keen to keep the momentum going! 

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