Photographer and Fine Artist Nadia Attura reawakens the memories of her travels to tropical lands in her delicately layered art pieces. She tells a story of the now and the remembered, of dreams and reality, absorbing a place so that it feels like she is still there. Using a variety of mediums from photography, painting to collage, Nadia turns to art to breathe and reconnect.
I like to absorb a place and take it in so completely, that when I am away I can recall it. I am still there.
As a Photographer and Fine Artist, when did you decide to start combining both mediums? And what inspires you to alter the original photograph?
I used to work as a Press and PR Photographer and when I was visiting India I used a medium format film – with film rolls which were out of date. I had them processed in India as I didn’t want to carry around so many unprocessed film rolls and the result was a disaster – but it was a happy disaster. When I looked at the negatives they had all sorts of marks on them, fog, colour distortion and interesting ghostly shapes. I loved them, and it sparked a curiosity into marking film and paper, combining the two mediums to tell a story. It was the thing that was missing from my life; stepping away from documentary – from someone else’s story – to my own. I was still working in Press but spending my ‘free’ time experimenting. In 2015 I framed some work and exhibited locally. In 2016 I applied to The Other Art fair and The Royal Academy Summer Show, I got into both and things took off from there. In 2017 I began working full time as a Fine Artist. Something I have realised about myself is my need to create.
What does the technique of layering mean for you? And what are your favourite mediums to work with?
I use Photoshop to combine all the collaged elements together including photographs and drawings. I also work directly onto prints with paint, chalk and pencil, these are for exhibition pieces and large scale work. I love to work with a combination of materials. My work revolves around combining acrylic paint on different surfaces, collage and photography, I like to take inspiration from each of them.
Close up work green print NY
There is a sense of contrast when you look at your pieces: between place and time, idealism and documenting real-life, what do these contrasts mean for you?
I am telling a story, of now and the remembered, of dreams and reality, mixing the two so they are seamless. Is it real, remembered or imagined. I want to feel like I am back in that time or place. When I create the photographs I spend more time being still. I like to absorb a place and take it in so completely, that when I am away I can recall it. I am still there.
I feel a sense of relief, of freedom, tranquillity, of joy; a space to breathe and reconnect.
What is your creative process when starting a new piece? Where do you tend to start?
I start from a colour, or a shape which has inspired me. I work with several pieces which are all at different stages of completion. I never know how they are going to turn out or which one I will finish first.
Studio Nadia Attura
Walk us through a typical day creating for you … any art rituals?
I am up before the rest of my family. I start off with a stretch, a coffee, a stare at the garden and some quiet before the house wakes up. I then answer emails from the day before, process any sales, admin basically. I do this first so that I can reward myself by creating for the rest of the day. When I am ready to begin, I lay out ideas and continue with what I was working on, accompanied by music or sometimes a podcast.
I like the serenity of the scenes you portray, how do you feel when you create art? And what emotions do you hope to evoke in the viewer?
I feel a sense of relief, of freedom, tranquillity, of joy; a space to breathe and reconnect. I have a need to create. I find it fascinating to hear how people feel about my work. How we read a composition, or perceive colour varies so I am intrigued to know where my work takes people.
Nature is a strong theme in your work, what draws you to portray natural scenes? And where have been some of your favourite places of travel?
I feel happiest in nature. With tall verdant giants, to vast never-ending views across the ocean. The quiet moments and all the noises, the constance, the feeling of being surrounded and protected by Mother Nature.
Sri Lanka’s tropical greens exceeded all that I had imagined and South Africa’s stunning diverse sub tropical southern hemisphere landscape captured my heart. I was meant to be in Brazil now, surrounded by rivers, jungles, waterfalls and the sea.
It sparked a curiosity into marking film and paper, combining the two mediums to tell a story
For the emerging artists out there, what advice would you give them?
Make your world art and you will find yourself in your work. You will make lots of mistakes, learn from them, it is a journey, one which you hope will never end.
What are your hopes and dreams as an artist?
That my work resonates with people, that they find as much reflection, peace and happiness in my art as I do making it.
What can we look out for?
I am creating new work. I set myself a target of two artworks a month. Lockdown has meant four shows and a gallery exhibition have been cancelled. I may have an outdoor show in London with Urban Art in Brixton in mid-July, but that remains to be seen. I will move to online shows otherwise. The pandemic has made us rethink and adapt to how we can continue to thrive. The internet and social media are playing the biggest part in this and we must embrace it to continue this journey.
To view more of Nadia’s work:
Will’s Art Warehouse: https://www.wills-art.com/
Saatchi Art: https://www.saatchiart.com/nadiaattura