We talked to artist Natalia Kapchuk, based in London, UK. She is known as a philanthropist, art collector, charity ambassador, environmentalist, but most of all as a contemporary artist. Her series of works “The Lost Planet” is dedicated to ecological issues, the eco-balance on the planet, the beauty and uniqueness of nature, and global environmental problems due to human activities. We discussed with Natalia the concept of her project, its eco-friendly message and impact it may have on the audience. We also talked about the environmental activities and charities supported by Natalia, her first success and hobbies during quarantine and not only.
Natalia, How did you get interested in the environment and why it has become a key theme in your new project?
I always pay attention to environment concerns. In my youth, I participated in cleanup school campaigns in parks and rivers banks. In Russia, there is a concept of ‘subbotnik’ – voluntary public work to cleanup the city and parks territory after winter. Over the years, reading articles and traveling the world a lot, I saw the real scale of pollution problem. I understood, that environmental issues must be solved as soon as possible. Humans and global corporations are in charge of climate change and its consequences we face today. Many governments look disquieted: they are discussing, signing conventions and agreements but I can’t see how they have really accomplished anything with it. I’m afraid that signing on the Paris Climate Agreement is not enough. I think about attracting people’s attention to the problem. As an artist I can show a viewer the planet’s nature through my artworks. Nature inspires me. I learned to appreciate the beauty in different parts of the world: in the desert dunes, in forest jungle, in the vast waters of the ocean and mountain landscapes, in the coastline, pretty design of island group and rivers’ traces. I don’t want to lose it all.
Any goal and messages coming from your art?
My mission is raise awareness of environmental protection among people so they could rethink their consumer behavior; reduce water, air, and land pollution. We can cut down plastic consumption in daily life; replace it with recyclable materials (glass, paper, iron). We must move towards rational use of water resources and energy. Sorting of household’s garbage should be a good habit for us; old household appliances, electrical equipment and power batteries must be collected for recycling. If we want to make a massive impact, we need to change ourselves.
Tell us more about “The Lost Planet” series. How are works connected with each other?
The first works are more figurative, I worked with real geographic images of the Earth on maps. Highlighting important regions or problem areas with a selection of materials used, the main focus was on the beauty of nature, the diversity of the landscapes and ocean spaces.
Then I began to concentrate more on the problems of specific regions like deforestation and giant blazes in the Amazon rainforests and Siberia. So the works ‘The Last Breath’ and ‘Russian Wildfires’ appeared. An important theme of the coral reefs crisis is covered in ‘Ocean’s DNA’. The problem of polar glacial melting, which I studied quite a lot actually and spent much time on special analytics resources collecting information and facts about ice sheet last year, is resulted in ‘Vanishing Antarctica’.
I consider environmental issues not only worldwide, but also in local ecosystems. I travel a lot around the world, and what I see is reflected in my works. After visiting the Stromboli island in August 2019, where a volcanic eruption occurred, I brought some volcanic sand. It became a part of new piece. In later works, I touch upon plastic waste. You can see that these works are more ‘pop’, vibrant and a bit “artificial” in some way. Such an effect was made specifically to show the contrast between nature and artificial elements, products of human activities as a symbol of consumer society. Thanks to the single-use disposal plastic, Lego bricks, PLA filament and LED lights, I managed to create completely different works showing global changes in the environment we’ve made during past decades. I try to react to the situation in the world, and in addition to the coronavirus, I have now returned to the problem of coral extinction at the Great Barrier Reef, which is experiencing a new blow from global warming in February and March this year.
BS: Natalia, how important are exhibitions, biennale and art fairs for you?
Major art events are always in my schedule. As an artist, I keep an eye on works of contemporary artists in order to understand their thoughts and point of view. I launched a video project titled “Kapchuk Art Diary” to show the brightest exhibitions and fairs, galleries expositions and outstanding artworks on display. Sometimes I express my opinion making my top list of presented works. I believe that every art lover can become a part of the show, even if there is no opportunity of personal attendance. Art always enriches our life.
BS: What are the most important points for aspiring artist?
There are 3 important aspects I figured about myself. The first is to find issues and objects that will inspire you to work every day. Being a contemporary artist is a work. If you have embarked on this path and want to succeed, be prepared to do this always. You will not have the opportunity to wait for inspiration; you need to find it in things around you, places or people, it depends on medium you choose. My inspiration is in nature and the environmental challenges; there are so many ideas that I do not see their end yet.
The second is to try and experiment. Be open to new tools, materials, mediums, and techniques to find the very thing that will allow you to reach your full potential. When I first tried to work with textures and improve my skills in resin art, I realized that the concept of round moulds describing ecological issues and beauty of local ecosystems and landscapes fits perfectly with mixed media technique, and I can experiment a lot with different materials.
The third important aspect – do not stop where you are. Regardless of whether your previous experience was successful or not, continue to create, draw, paint and make new ones. Do not lose heart and do not give up. Understand why you are doing this, what you expect. When I first started working on The Lost Planet pieces, I was very passionate about the process. My London studio became my second home for a while. Then there was the first reaction of my friends and followers on instagram who supported me. I really appreciate it. It gave me additional energy to improve my techniques and express other environmental issues that are important to me and I wish my audience could see.
BS: You dedicate a lot of time to contemporary art, but you are doing other activities. Tell us about it.
Yes, it is. I am an ambassador for The Parliamentary Society of Arts, Fashion and Sports (UK). My duty is to act on the problems of young and emerging artists. Together with another honored members we discuss what we can do to develop art industry in London, United Kingdom and on the international arena. I am ambassador for Better World Forum (BWF). I try to actively support charitable organizations aimed at environmental protection, saving endangered species, and organizing cleanup campaigns of the world’s oceans. Almost every summer, together with like-minded people I organize local cleanup campaign in the Mediterranean Sea to collect plastic waste and abandoned fishing gears that causes ghost fishing. I think to collaborate with eco activists from South Asia. Before borders closing due to global situation of new coronavirus spread we discussed my support and participation in the cleaning of local rivers from plastic. It forms Indian Ocean and Great Pacific garbage patches. I hope that the virus will be stopped soon and we will be able to proceed with negotiations. So I plan to invest all of the money raised from my upcoming exhibition in this project.
BS. What are your occupation during the quarantine?
In this difficult and new time for all of us I stay home. I read books and articles I wanted to but didn’t have enough time before. I cook, and I really love cooking for my beloved one. I create new pieces experimenting with materials; of course, it takes a lot of time. And another important hobby we shouldn’t forget during the quarantine days is sport; I do exercises, stretching and yoga.
The solo show of Natalia Kapchuk is scheduled for 2020 year in such cities as London, New York and Moscow. “The Lost Planet” project features 22 artworks, 2 wall sculptures and a video installation.
Find Natalia on Instagram: HERE
Photos courtesy of FPRBuro, press office of Natalia Kapchuk