Artist Interview - Natalia Millman

Artist interview between Shannon Skye Robinson and Lois Emma Harkin (Curating Futures Project Coordinator), and Natalia Millman (Curating Futures Artist).


* Warning, mature content- nudity *


Date of Interview: 20th of December 2021

Participants: Shannon Skye Robinson (SSR) and Lois Emma Harkin (LEH) and Natalia Millman (NM)



SSR/LEH: What is your background?


NM: I am a Ukrainian-British visual artist highly influenced by melancholic and contemplative nature of my home culture. My linguistic degrees and general interest in language are interwoven into my creative practice with the use of words. In 2020 I was invited to become a guest artist at Studio Fridays - a leading platform for emerging artists in the UK. In 2021 I held a solo exhibition Vanishing Point in the Crypt Gallery, London, exploring ageing, grief and the impact of dementia.

 

SSR/LEH: How did you get into art/ creativity?

NM: My journey into art was instinctive and gradual. In Ukraine being an artist was not an option and my crafty nature was pushed to the background. I was highly influenced by artistic interests of my parents and kept my creative inclinations alive throughout my school life. Motherhood brought a new focus and questions of self-discovery. This guided me to the regular creative practice giving me the opportunity to accept all changes that this new stage of life brought with it. Art classes turned into new projects expanding my understanding of the contemporary art, my own creative practice and helped me learn who am as an artist and as a human.


Artwork produced by Natalia Millman


 

SSR/LEH: What do you get out of producing work?

NM: When I produce work, I generate positive energy, deeply connect with myself and the outside world. I visually release my story with the hope that it resonates with the audience. I aim to stimulate the conversation about topics that are often avoided or hidden, i.e. mortality, ageing, loss and grieving. I purposefully bring this subject matter to the foreground to engage community in the active discovery of their self, fears and limitations. My latest body of work “Vanishing Point” helped me heal from personal grief: working in my studio, I was diving deep into my unconscious and confronting some old traumas. The feeling of alignment of my personal goals with the higher universal energy, gives me a sense of belonging to a bigger picture..


Artwork produced by Natalia Millman


 

SSR/LEH: How do you want your work to be perceived by an audience?

NM: I am aware that the topics I speak about in my art are difficult, often unpleasant, and stigmatised. I would like the audience to find some strings of connection, to link them to my story, to shock, to sadden and most importantly to remind about the fragility of life. We need to remember that our life is finite, there is a closing moment and the shift in perspective needs to happen now, that every moment is precious. The grief is not an illness and you can’t get better or recover. It is a process, unique to all. Learning about this from my art hopefully gives hope to those that struggle or provides a better understanding about grief as a journey.

Artwork produced by Natalia Millman


 

SSR/LEH: Who are your biggest inspirations?

NM: I am, firstly, inspired by nature, its complexities, structures, rules and magic. The idea of

interconnectedness, symbiotics and universal energy is in the basis of my art. I am also inspired by artists who face life and sadness as it is. Tracy Emin, Berlinde de Bruyckere, Francesca Woodman, Derek Jarman all narrated their personal stories through art. Their inner strength opens up some doors within inspiring me explore my humanity.

Artwork produced by Natalia Millman


 

SSR/LEH: What are the main concepts or themes you explore within your work?


NM: For the last few years, I have been investigating the process of ageing and the stigma of

dementia, highlighting the damage that time imposes on human body and mind, affecting structures in the brain responsible for language, memories, and consciousness. Having analysed the trauma, I am hoping to shift the tragedy narrative and highlight hope and positive choices that people can make to reduce depression and isolation in old age. I am also looking at the stages of grief, how it shapes the new chapters of our life and ways to successfully communicate it. My latest project“Grief Letter” helps promote grief support through letter writing. This process brings memories and unconscious together, to process the complex nature of loss.


 

SSR/LEH: What is the main thing you have learnt through your creative practice?


NM: The main thing I learnt is that mistakes do not define us. We are setting our own limitations and equally we can remove them. Success comes when you lose yourself and have fun. Listening to inner voice is the most important conversation that we can have. Visualising is important but sometimes setting a goal is not the final destination, the process is much more valuable.


Artwork produced by Natalia Millman


 

SSR/LEH: Who is your work for? Yourself? A small community? A specific sector of society? Or is it for everyone?

NM: My work is for everyone. This is strongly highlighted in my “Grief Letter”, a community project promoting grief support. My solo show was telling my personal story and now I am looking to connect with the wider audience to share experiences, struggles, traumas and hopes of others.


 

SSR/LEH: What is the best piece of advice you could give to another artist, or someone just starting out in the creative sector?

NM: Best advise is keep asking why you are doing what you are doing. If we lose track of our goal, the narrative disintegrates. Staying consistent - always show up to your practice. Don’t have many expectations or impostor syndrome will take over. Don’t compare yourself to other artists. Creative world is messed up enough. There is place for everyone in it. Your story is as important as Damien Hirst’.


 

SSR/LEH: Why did you decide to join the Curating Futures community?


NM: I enjoy exchanging ideas and seeing what other creatives are working on. Being part of a bigger community is inspiring. We all work with different subject matter, materials and visions but together we can learn from each other, provide support and most importantly have fun. Curating Futures confirms yet again, that there is space I the art world for all of us.



 

You can find Natalia Millman via her Instagram