Natasha Cousens is a sculptor and artist living in New Zealand, having recently moved from Hayling Island on the south coast of England. Her work is breathtakingly beautiful and will bring you back to a world of fantasy. Like childhood fairy tales, she is inspired by nature’s forest animals that include deer, foxes and hares. Her works are beautifully detailed and intricately decorated in floral designs. There is no real taxidermy in her work, she is an animal lover at heart and her passion is illustrated in her works.
“The essence of the piece
Doe Ray Me is genderless,
the deers soft features
based upon the fallow deer,
but antlers obviously
being a trait
only to that of a stag.”
She works out of her home studio in New Zealand having recently settled into life in a new country. She’s recently completed a work entitled “The Beauty”. Typically, it will take Natasha months to complete a project. Many of her works begin as simple sketches which transforms to a completed project made of fibreglass and resin, ceramic, wood and other materials such as altered artificial flowers.
How is life in New Zealand and can you describe to us a typical day for you.
Life in New Zealand is good, thank you. I’m still settling in a way. I only moved here back in December so it’s been hard leaving everyone and everything you know and love, but it’s really starting to feel like home now. I’ve met some beautiful and lovely people and there is a fabulous creative community where I live too. I’m slowly settling into New Zealand life! Most of my studio time is afternoons, evenings, weekends and fitting in around the day job. But saying that, the studio is where I live. Typically, I also pop in the studio first thing before work so I can pick myself up of what needs to be done later, whether it be sourcing materials or planning the next steps from work the day before, or work research, etc.
When did you get started in art and sculpting?
Like many artists, as a kid drawing and painting or making some kind of thing was always at the forefront of my interests. So later in my education I wanted to stick with that love and complete a fine art or illustration degree (which I had planned to). However, I changed courses last minute to study a degree in restoration and decorative studies at the University of Portsmouth which was great, but I think naively at that age where I didn’t have any money, I was more worried about maybe not getting a job at the end if I studied art? Maybe, I thought, I might be more likely to get a creative job down that route, more practical on the job front? I don’t know? Well, I haven’t touched it since I graduated. To be honest when I finished the University, I then just wanted to work caring for animals which I did for a long time as this is another path of passion for me. But my studies at University is where my love of clay came from, making some encaustic tiles and ceramic wall mural. It led to my exploration of working more in 3D. I’m self taught as a sculptor and I’m always still learning.
Many of your sculptures include deer and taxidermy in a beautiful art form. What gives you the inspiration for these types of works?
My work always tends to draw toward the narrative, the inspiration being a mix of many things. Generally gravitating around nature’s beauty and our connection with it. The use of wildlife in story telling. The fine line of distinguishing what’s reality, and what’s illusion or dream. Love and life itself. The essence of the piece Doe Ray Me is genderless, the deers soft features based upon the fallow deer, but antlers obviously being a trait only to that of a stag. ‘It’ being the epitome of beauty and strength. The personification of life, spirit, and nature as one. Life’s magic.
Can you describe how you typically start a project from start to finish.
From my initial idea I research certain elements I.e images of certain branch types, flowers, the shape and form of the animal. Sometimes I have a clear vision of where I’m going, and the work ends up a fairly close design of my original idea. Sometimes though things develop differently from what I initially plan, growing slightly more organically.
I begin with a rough sketch, a mental note of my thoughts, plans. I make test pieces of certain aspects of design. But due to the cost of materials I normally make a lot straight off the cuff. So I always try and think ahead with planning and design to make sure I get it as right as can be, and to preempt any possible problems. The clay work is done first, made on an armature or backing board if needed. Then hollowed, reassembled and fired. The fibreglass, resin, wood or whatever other material processes after. My work often tends to take a long time from initial idea to final piece, fitting in with daily life. Doe Ray Me took me about 11 months from concept to completion, but that’s also because I had a break from this work in-between. I often work on more than one piece at a time due to the nature of the materials. I had actually made another sculpture within that time too that took about 2-3 months.
Your work has recently been exhibited at the 2014 Miles Art Award Exhibition. Is your work primarily exhibited in galleries or do you have an online site for exhibiting your works?
A bit of both really. I like to exhibit my work in galleries, but also have a website as an online portfolio of my works. I also have a blog which is more of an online documentation of my work process so you can see what I’m currently doing in the studio.
How did you come up with your blog name “Aiko and The Rabbits Den”?
Well, Aiko is my middle name. A lot of my work at the time of starting my blog were rabbits and hares. I guess the rest is a little Alice in Wonderland like. Entering a fantasy world.. and the work being my minds creation.
How has social media impacted you as a professional artist?
Social media has been great. I think it really helps to get your work seen by the public. I’m not prolific in my blog updates or tweets and maybe need to get a little bit more involved. But it definitely has helped greatly with gaining a wider audience of my art practice.
“My work always tends
to draw toward the narrative,
being a mix of many things.
Generally gravitating around
and our connection with it.”
What projects are you presently working on now?
It’s been quite a full-on year. Especially with the big move and adjusting to life in a new country. I’ve thrown myself into everything. Which has been brilliant, but a little tiring too. I’ve actually just completed two new sculptures. They are part of the ongoing development of my current body of work. I have some ideas for my next pieces, but I will have a little down time before getting started in this new work. I’m never too long away from the studio as I start feeling agitated. I think it’s important to allow yourself to see where you are going next. It helps give me new inspiration. I sometimes forget to look around and enjoy the little things more and get energised with life itself.
Do you have any exhibitions of your artwork and where can we purchase your sculptures?
In November I will be exhibiting some of my work at The Light wave Gallery in Mount Maunganui for the Garden and Art Festival, which I am really looking forward to. My work will be for sale. You can also contact me at my website for other available works.
Thank you, Natasha for this wonderful interview.
Natasha Cousens is an artist living in New Zealand. She focuses her work mainly on animals. Her works are fantasy pieces that involves Taxidermy-like presentations that are hung on a wall or placed on a pedestal.
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