Nadia's arresting works hang in the balance between the real and the surreal, transporting us to distant, hazy lands. Vintage, pastel tones and an illustrative approach imbue her works with a dreamlike feel that's further enhanced by her meticulous manipulation. Capturing the world through her analogue camera, she layers fragmented scenes to create charming, imagined scenes. We sat down with Nadia, unearthing her story and discovering the secrets behind her mysterious works. Read on to see into her studio and browse her latest works.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I have always wanted to be an artist, ever since I can remember. I loved creating, painting, drawing, gluing things together. I had the patience to sit for hours and create, it was the one thing that stopped me from climbing trees and playing outdoors. I especially loved painting what was in front of me. My parents would have preferred me to ‘do something with computers or work in an office’ but creativity is where my strengths and passion have led me.
What does being creative mean to you?
It means being being free. I am someone who cannot sit still: I have to be making and creating, in whatever form it takes, from photographing to editing, painting, researching, cooking or simply walking in nature, which I find the most inspirational.
What has been the greatest impact on you as an artist to date?
Being selected and exhibiting at the 2016 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Until then I had been working both as an artist and as a commercial photographer, combining the two disciplines. After the exhibition I was fortunate enough to dedicate myself to art full time.
What's your artistic weapon of choice?
As of January 2017 it has been a much coveted Canon 5d Mark 3, I used it in South Africa and fell in love. Otherwise, I use a Bronica Etrs for landscapes, and a lighter Lubitel for urban scenes.
How do your prints & photographs differ?
They are intertwined. Sometimes I photograph a still with my analogue camera (usually on medium format 120mm film) and if I am happy with the results and I feel that it has conveyed how I felt at that time, then I keep editing to a minimal, only using digital darkroom techniques. Whereas my prints are combined photographs, either combined in camera or in studio, through adding photographed details, textures, paint and drawings, and combining these to create a 3D tapestry on a 2D medium.
Give us a quick one or line about your studio space - what do you love about it?
I love the view over the garden. With space to look far I can watch how it responds each day to the changes in weather. We planted a cherry blossom and I am loving watching the pinks unfold today, while listening to the rain.
Do you have a favourite or most meaningful piece?
My favourite is one which I keep coming back to with a smile, it is Candy Floss Beach. There is a warmth to this portrait, and it has the feeling of nostalgia and timelessness. The tropical faded palm trees, golden sand and pop of pink candy floss all frame the sweet candy floss seller. The image was created using medium format film, and I photographed from waist level, allowing me to engage glances with my subject; there was no camera as a barrier, just an exchange.
Where do you go to seek inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere: in the intricacies and the fine detail. The way the light enhances texture and form, or creates changes in colour, for example. I am also inspired by words, listening to podcasts and music to guide me.
Where’s your favourite place to travel to and why?
I loved California, I went last year for a month road trip to Yosemite, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree national park, Death valley, and route 66. Finally being surrounded by such iconic places that I have read so much about was incredible. The people I encountered were lovely too. I also love Rome: I love the warmth in Roman voices, the delicious food, family strolls - it's like a beautiful living art museum.
Best advice you’ve ever been given as an artist?
Don’t give up.
Three dream dinner party guests?
David Hockney, Frida Kahlo, Alex Webb - wow what an evening!
Favourite inspirational quote?
'Rome wasn’t built in a day' or 'nip it in the bud'.