Nadine Carter-Smith - Spotlight Initiative

Nadine is a Performance and Fine artist who lives and works in North Wales. Over a break between kids art workshops, we start the interview.

What got you into doing dance? 

 “I started off doing dance around the age of 9, which is quite old to start dancing. I had wanted to do ballet for a while, but my mum who used to dance, had a really serious accident which broke every bone in her feet/toes and she didn’t really want me to do ballet. It wasn’t till much later I started, this was partially to boost my confidence as I was very, very shy and people believed that by ‘doing some sort of performance may help with me confidence’.”

Do you have any favourite artists? Anyone who inspires you in regard to your work ?

 “Frida Kahlo is a huge influence to me because she was an incredibly strong woman, very forward thinking and I love her artwork because it tells her story, its very moving, symbolic and bold. As well I love that she herself was as much her art, as a person, how she dressed and what she had gone through and it’s these things that make Frida a strong person who inspires me.

 Another influential artists is Yayoi Kusama (Japanese Artist and Writer) who has inspired me more recently, because I love her obsession with art. I love how it will start on a canvas and grow onto walls, ceilings, floors and it has inspired me for my artwork. 

 And finally children inspire me, they are one of my greatest inspirations to me, because I love their freedom, spontaneity and there are no rules.” 

What journey did you take when it came to learning your trade? Did you learn?, were you self taught? 

“I wasn’t very academic at school,I struggled at school a lot, but found art to be a place where I was comfortable. They told me I wouldn’t have a future in the arts and discouraged me to do art, but luckily I had parents who were incredibly supportive. So firstly I moved onto doing a foundation and then onto university to study performance art (which is a combination of Dance and Fine Art). My dance teacher, even though I had started late, kept pushing me all the way through my exams right up to my teaching level in classical ballet, so dance was a massive part of my growing up. I found that art was appealing to me more but when applying for my university course I was lucky to find one course which combined both my loves of Dance and Fine Art in Brighton, so I went there to do visual performance arts. 

After that, my work became more Fine art focused so I completed a Masters degree in Fine Art. Following this I worked as an artist in a variety of capacities, working in refuges (art therapy), working with young kids (play therapy). I found myself struggling to survive so thats when I went down the teaching route and completed a PGCE and taught primary children, who now influence my work.”

You live in north wales, how long have you been living here? 

“12 years.” 

Does any of the local culture and landscapes provide inspiration for your work?

“The landscape inspires me a lot (the openness), being by the sea, being by the sea helps. Although it doesn’t directly influence my work, it influences myself, makes me calm and inspired. I find it up here more refreshing, as artists, your art is something you cant stop, you eat sleep and breathe it.” 

You’ve been a part of the community arts for a while now, how long have you been teaching workshops and where did it all begin? 

“25 years.”

You have also been a part of the Llawn arts festivals in Llandudno and the new FreeHaus Art school which is part of CALL (Culture Action Llandudno), have you enjoyed working in these and working alongside the community?

“Everything I do is inspired by others, so by having the amazing opportunity to work alongside other people in Llawn and FreeHaus, it feeds my ideas. So without doing projects like that, I would feel lost, and its another exciting thing about being here, is that we have these two amazing things happening.” 

What would be your most memorable moment from the Llawn festivals and FreeHaus?

“With Llawn, I’ve had so many magical moments over the previous three years of the festival as I’ve taken part in all three. Last years Llawn 03 festival, it was amazing just meeting so many new people and it was spectacular just siting there with my bathing machine, and knitting alongside a row of fabulous people. All different ages, all different backgrounds, all together contributing, it was a lovely thing to see everyone knitting together. People who had never knitted before, one man who was just sat there listening to the click click of the needles as it reminded him of his wife who had regrettably passed away. It is that one moment of everyone being together, a collective, that made the whole time magical.” 

You are now the Education co-ordinator for the Royal Cambrian Academy, do you have any exciting plans for the education program there?

“At RCA, I want to do more workshops, more work involving the gallery being present in the community and having it as a free and accessible tool. I want to get more young people involved in the gallery. Bringing young people in will bring along energy and innovative ideas.” 

FreeHaus is a good example of bringing the arts to the community, do you think there should be more of a push in regard to the arts especially working with the community? 

“Yes, currently with so many funding cuts in the arts, it has become worrying for artists. Art has got a huge presence in the community which a lot of people dont realise how its not just an outlet for being creative and expressive, it becomes a therapy for others. I think that, we cant do too much, there are so many people out there to work with and the success of the FreeHaus Art School proves there is a real need for it in the community. 

A lot of people can’t afford to take their children to paid workshops within galleries, so if there is a way of generating the money to make community arts a free an accessible tool for the community, then it is really important. With it being pushed out of education, kids are doing it less and less and it is becoming sad to see. As well with a lot of the elderly population, there isn’t anything there for them and there are a lot of lonely, isolated people out there, Community arts has the opportunity of at least bringing people together and providing opportunities for happiness for everyone.” 

What would you consider as your biggest art project you have undertaken? 

“I have a habit of always trying to push myself, and take on something quite big, although sometimes it may appear small, I like the whole idea of adding and watching as a project grows. The current piece ‘Junk Shrine- A Life Size Architectural Intervention’ is probably my most ambitious, it is a huge challenge for me a new way of working to create a structure you can walk into and be immersed in. 

The shrine is going to be made form junk, I wanted the shrine not to represent any one faith or belief, I wanted it to be a shrine celebrating creativity, individuality and bringing people together as a collective/as one. For me, it’s a huge symbol of our world, and being one, which is very much needed at the moment. I decided to use Junk, as this is also another major problem for our world, with so much wastage, I thought it would be perfect to take these negatives and make them into positives and something beautiful. 

The shrine is fun and accessible for everyone to work with, so doable by everybody, so everyone can be involved no matter the age or background, but also still keep its deep poetic message about our world. With it being 100 years of the Dada movement, I decided by re using materials was a great homage as a lot of the Dada artists re-used materials. Kurt Schwitters (German Artist) who built his shrine out of junk, I wasn’t aware of his work until I had started creating the Junk Shrine, which i found a really interesting overlap.” 

Out of all the art projects you’ve done, which has been your favourite?

“I always love the project I’m working on because I immerse myself in it’s development. I don’t think I’ve ever found a project that I didn’t enjoy, as all projects will have ups and downs and problems along the way, but these moments of absolute magic and amazing times, I just cant have a favourite.” 

Do you have any upcoming projects?

“Im hoping to do some exciting things at the RCA (Royal Cambrian Academy) currently I don’t have a definitive, but hopefully there should be something exciting so keep an eye on this space.” 

 Have you done any collaborations with any other artists?

Ive worked a couple of times alongside Anotonia Dewhurst, who is a photographer but also creates sculptures, installations, a multi disciplinary artist, I really enjoyed working alongside her as she works in a completely different way to me. We complemented each other and for example created a piece called No Mans Land, a tree within Mostyn Art Gallery for the World War 1 exhibition, the piece was to engage with the visitors, as there was a really challenging show by Broomberg and Chanarin, called divine violence. It was to engage with visitors who might have felt upset, offended, deeply moved by the work. 

We wanted to do more than just be there to talk to, as people were sharing incredibly personal feelings with us we decided to create a bomb blasted tree, in which people could tie their comments onto the tree. It was a wonderful experience to work with Antonia, to share our different skills and to challenge each other was good, and to gain interesting feedback from the public. As well I love to collaborate with the public, of all ages, for me, I just couldn’t do it on my own.” 

I personally believe that an artist’s workshop reflects their art style, how would you describe your workshop? Maybe in three words? 

“Colourful, Expressive and Chaos.” 

 What is your opinion of the Spotlight initiative?  

“I think it’s a fabulous idea, its going to be a wonderful pool of all sorts of different art people that work in the arts world. I think for you, it is a brilliant idea, for you it’s going to make lots of contacts and meet a wide variety of people that might feed into your work. And from an arts point of view it’s a rich tool of artists and their information, its quite unique and quite personal. And for me personally and all the individual artists, its fantastic that you are acknowledging people and you are sharing their practice, so for everyone, it is a very positive thing.” 

In three words, could you describe your art work? 

“Immersive, Interactive, Inclusive.”  

Links to information on the works below:

Llawn Festival - Pinking Us Together

Culture Action Llandudno (CALL) Free Haus Nadine Carter-Smith Video

Using Format