Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ten Years, Ten Artists: Natalie Martin

My first Brighton Art Fair was terrifying. I had applied, mainly in solidarity with a friend, not thinking for one moment that I would be accepted. I couldn’t have been more shocked to get in. But shock was rapidly replaced with horror as I realized I had been painting for less than a year and only had the three paintings that I had applied with to fill my stand. I spent that summer working at fever pitch to prepare enough work to hang. Which is why I probably still see October as a compulsory month off.

I was scared stiff through the Private View but my salvation came the next morning. Rod McIntosh, a fabulous artist and arts consultant, was giving consultations and he managed to talk some sense into me. So instead of bursting into tears and going home as I’d planned, I just tried to relax and enjoy the weekend. And it was an amazing weekend!
The response from the public was so lovely. Who knew so many people liked stairs? But the two things I found most helpful were the questions people asked me, making me consider aspects of my work that hadn’t even crossed my mind while I was painting them; and the level of support from the other artists.

That is something that I still find extremely important. Whenever I consider a change in direction or have an art related decision to make, just being able to have a chat with someone who is in the same position as me or remembers what I’m going through is invaluable. It’s the litmus test when it comes to new work or new ideas. I’m not known for being good at taking advice when it comes to my work but I will take it from anyone in that room.

And besides that, being shut in for four days with folk, you get a bit of bonding going on. In my case, usually over cake. Or wine. Occasionally there’s wine.
This will be my seventh Brighton Art Fair and I can’t wait. Some of them have been pretty difficult. I’ve had to stand and smile, trying to pretend that I didn’t have the flu or that my uncle’s funeral wasn’t going on elsewhere or that my heart was broken. But I have also laughed so hard I’ve had to leave my stand, been complimented so much I’ve not known where to look and met some of the most amazing and interesting people. Generally it falls on or near my birthday too so more often than not it’s an added source of celebration.

I constantly tell Rod that I wouldn’t be where I am without him and what he said to me that first morning when I was so overwhelmed. He tells me to shut up and that its down to my hard work, which is also true I guess. But I know damn well that a big chunk of the life I have now I owe to Jon and Sarah, Anne-Marie and the team for giving me that first opportunity on the strength of the only three paintings I'd ever made.
We were asked to write what the art fair means to us.

Brighton Art Fair made me a painter and gave me a career. So I guess it means everything.

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