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Duncan, Natalie

Natalie is a ceramicist from Dungog and many of her works “reflect the special connection between women and ceramics”.  She recently won the 2017 Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize with her artwork “Kimmy K Artamidae”.


How long have you been creating?

While I was in the army I was lucky enough to do the Combat Photographers course in 2009, it was here that I was exposed to Robert Capa and the other wartime photographers. I took up photography and I knew that I wanted to work in a creative field. I deployed to Afghanistan not long after, and was encouraged by my Commanding Officer to document the deployment. When I came back from Afghanistan I decided that I wanted to go to university and study art. Ironically I moved away from photography into sculpture and it was here that I was exposed to ceramics and have been smitten with it ever since.

How have you developed your skills?
University was the foundation of my learning, however I have attended workshops and demonstrations that have greatly influenced my practice.  To be truthful the greatest developments in my work have been triggered by my failures. Also red wine.

What characterizes your work?
The female form.  Most of my vessels have womb like crystal caves, womanly curves and are incised with stretch mark narratives.

Why do you do it?
I love working with clay, there is a special connection between women and ceramic, we have always had a relationship to ceramics. Paleolithic fingerprints captured in the very first vessels ever made, all belong to women. Culturally we are aligned in a domestic sense with ceramics, cups saucers, the kitchen and women. It is with the vessel that I explore this relationship.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m inspired by other artists; Jenny Orchard, Cybelle Rowe, Ramesh who challenge ideas about ceramics. But also teachers and lecturers I’ve had, their enthusiasm is contagious. My peers in the artisan group I belong to really inspire me, the integrity that goes into their work is unquestionable.

What do you see as the benefits to you as an artist from living in a regional area in Australia?
The art community is so supportive here. I am part of an artisan group, Dungog By Design and they continually uplift and encourage me. Even in a broader sense you have the support and encouragement of local galleries and organisations, obviously Arts Upper Hunter is a big contributor, also Maitland Regional Art Gallery is a real and very supportive presence, NAS and the smaller galleries like Gallery 139  and Dungog Contemporary all get on board. Even at a  grass  roots level you have the support, the Werkhovens from Studio La Primitive are tireless in their promotion and guidance for local artists

In fact It was at an initiative ran by Arts Upper Hunter, Speed Dating for Artists, where I received great feedback and encouragement that spurred me to enter the Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize, so I believe there are massive benefits for artists in regional areas,

For more information please email Natalie at natalietduncan@optusnet.com.au


Photos courtesy of Natalie.

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