Country – Spain, Mallorca
City – Palma
Nathalie Vin grew up in Brittany, the Celtic region covering the western part of France, also known as Armorica or “Little sea” during the Roman occupation. By the way, Asterix and Obelix are household names and also Bretons!
Also known as “Little Britain”, Brittany is the site of some of the world’s oldest standing architectural stones dating back to the Neolithic period, 5th millennium BC. As a child, Nathalie has spent a great deal of time walking among these intimidating and colossal stones… also referred as “the whispering stones”.
Local myths state that a Roman legion was on the march when the wizard Merlin turned them into stones. Magic is deeply rooted in Brittany! As a kid growing up there, your mind can run wild and far!Brittany is the home of many legends and myths and is closely associated with Great Britain and The King Arthur’s legend.
In the Broceliande Forest (50 km from Vannes, my hometown), the ruins of an ancient castle surrounded by a lake is believed to be “The lady of the lake” and the “Merlin’s tomb” location. No wonder really that my fascination for these legends and myths from Brittany drove me, many years later to jump over the channel and settle in Great Britain, the other land of myths and legends.
As mentioned above, Nathalie grew up in Vannes, a pretty Roman and Medieval town by the sea. Natalie talks about these days:
I remember Vannes as being asleep and conformist, weighed down by Religion and the Military. I remember having been seriously bored there but boredom can be a great trigger to a prolific imagination and creativity… There are some redeeming qualities to boredom!
In Brittany, we are surrounded by stones, giant vertical stones… but to this day, I am still wondering how the thought of making mosaic even crossed my mind… no one in my family was remotely artistic and I had no one to guide me, inspire me or show me the way. How the seed of mosaic reached me in the way it did, still remains a mystery!
Maybe it all started the first time I visited the archeologic site of Pompeii when I was 15 years old, but then again, I can’t be totally certain! I wish I knew for certain what triggered my mind to think and see things in the way I do.
Next, we give a story by Natalie Vin about herself, her perception of mosaic as art, its unique methods and sensations, which inspire her to work.
– As a process, to be a mosaic maker, it requires to investigate the small, and how it builds into a larger whole, putting elements together like a puzzle. It requires a special creative inclination!
In mosaic, each individual tile is singular, beautiful and unique, and could even stand on its own. But when you orchestrate a tile among many others, the tile becomes part of a much larger idea which, which becomes a story.
When it comes to mosaic, I am completely self-taught.
I do not specialise really in any particular technique or style and I tend to work more and more with material which are not always associated with the medium of mosaic.
I never represent Nature, even though I am fascinated with those who achieve wonders on that path… I guess I am personally driven by contemporary culture and existential notions, that keep coming back to me: Mankind versus nature, permanence and impermanence, the future and our attitude to it, man’s dreams and beliefs, man’s achievements and failures… Mankind is what drives me in everything I do.
Looking back at my work, it seems to always evolve first around ideas rather than matter and this has led me to work with very versatile materials ranging from 3D moving images to glow-in-the-dark materials, holograms, gold, recycled metal, plastic or wooden objects… and always in search to play with light, to create shadows which I also like to call “ghost matter”.
It is only by looking at my body of work that I was able to see a mirror reflection of myself, and that taught me more about myself as an artist than anything else.
Looking at my steps, it would seem that my path has had many twists and turns. Some artists express themselves by delving deeper down a chosen path, but my intuition has led me to touch more briefly on a variety of paths.
My creative journey has been quite a meandering one really, going from large scale urban art projections to short film making to glow-in-the-dark paintings for rave clubs… and mosaic, and within mosaic itself, you can find me on the kinetic exploration, on the gold exploration and on what I call, “the idea of the moment”, and that alone can take me on many different directions technically and material wise.
Mosaic is a well of possibilities, and I can’t help myself to be pulled in several directions. But it seems that there are two very distinct directions that keep coming back to me:The Gold Direction and the Kinetic Direction.
As for Gold, my fascination with this metal has nothing to do with the element of value or status that is attached to it. It takes me to a place that no other matter can do.
This flamboyant metal is indestructible and resides in all of us, to be precise, there is 0.2 grams of gold in an adult human playing as a key element in the transmittal of electrical signals throughout the body.
All the way from ‘Space to Us’, gold has acted as a transmittal conductor of data and information whether it be in the human body, in the electricity technology or in the computer age.
On a more spiritual level, gold has also been used to communicate with or represent gods and the “absolute divine” whether it be for example during the Egyptians period or closer to us with the painters of the first part of the middle ages period. Perspectives had not been invented yet, and art looked therefore flat and two dimensional. But the use of gold in religious art, was a way for the artists to surpass the lack of relief and create a divine dimension.
In all my gold exploration, I am trying to create a dimension where time and space does not exist anymore, a space where the notion of everything has disappeared… a space to contemplate and meditate…
In all my work when I create these spaces, I tend to express and communicate via sequences and repetitions with an extensive use of negative spaces, they allow me to compose more melodically with matter, I breathe, I feel serene.
As for kinetic exploration, there are two ways I create “motion” in my work: Either by
using light which generate shadows in motion or not, or with lenticulars, which are also called 3D moving images.
To create kinetic work involving light you need three elements: Light, 3D matter and the resulting shadows.
I am absolutely fascinated by shadows. I call them “ghost matter”, because they leave such a dynamic and pronounced print on the work, even if they are not really there physically.
But still, they are so alive, they can gradually dance if the light source involves natural light or be frozen if there is only an artificial light. But when the light source involves natural light, the shadows react like a sundial throughout the day. When you introduce natural light to create shadows into your work, you introduce a wild card, because the way the work looks like cannot be controlled, and that is the beauty of it.
Shadows are also a marriage made in heaven when it comes to interact with the colour White which I use extensively in my work. This colour, often associated to Purity, Peace, Light or Death keeps coming back into my work. It bears and contrast with shadows like no other colour, it has the entire chromatic colour spectrum at its feet, I feel completely in my element and feel I still have so much to explore and create in this direction.
In everything I do, my creative approach is closely linked to the materials I use. I sometimes start from a material which will then trigger “an idea” but in most cases, it is “the idea” that guides me toward specific material leading me to work with very versatile materials and explore new techniques in order to bend matter to my specific idea.
Because mosaic is a medium that holds so much gravity and permanence, it would have been an absolute conundrum over the past twenty years to try to express abstract ideas such as: “The Last Seconds Before You Die?”, “The melody of the Universe” or “The concept of Time” etc…
Needless to say that I have spent a few years in the corridors of doubt… until I found my way.
What do I think of modern mosaic and what are my plans for the future
In recent years I have observed that mosaic artists were expressing more and more “ideas and concepts” rather than creating just objects of beauty. This is when Mosaic becomes Art and shift away from the notion of Craft. Art moves people on an emotional level because it comes from the heart and the soul, whereas Craft attracts people, absolutely nothing wrong about it, just two different notions here.
Worldwide, Contemporary Mosaic Art is like a huge ocean of wonders, many mosaic artists are more and more shifting from traditional mosaic making by creating their own unique ways of expressions, by implementing new techniques and therefore participating in creating a gigantic net of styles and possibilities.
As an artist, it can be difficult to find your way among such talents and diversity but as a mosaic lover, well… welcome to a life of discoveries and full contemplation!
When it comes to my future works, I can see myself evolving always further towards Mixed-Media and Fine Art Mosaic with always one foot into a bucket of gold and the other exploring vast amounts of materials to express recurrent ideas and preoccupations that are dear to me as a human being and therefore as an artist: the Future and our attitude to it, man versus nature, permanence and impermanence…
Present past and future:
After spending 25 exciting years between Brighton and London, I decided last year to relocate to Mallorca in Spain which is also my mother’s country of origin, creating for myself a tone of new challenges!
When it comes to the past, my work has been exhibited extensively in many prestigious contemporary mosaic art exhibitions throughout Europe and America. Some of my work was also showcased at the Medici Museum in Florence, at the Museum des Beaux Arts in France and the Museum of Glass in America. I received a ‘special distinction’ award in 2014 for the famous Picasiette Prize in France and was also a prize winner (2nd place) in the 2016 exhibition.
At present, I have embarked myself on several time-consuming and laborious pieces of work, one of which will be exhibited at the “Mosaic Experience” exhibition in Brittany in 2020.
I just want to carry on being my own harshest critic and the person I want most to impress, I just want to strive to learn and improve my work constantly, that means that I have a lifetime of working away making myself happy when improvement knocks at my door.