Natasha Archdale


Natasha Archdale was born in 1976 in London. A nomadic childhood took her across Europe and led to a spell in rural Kenya, a major inspiration of recent depictions of animals in her work. Her earliest sketchbooks are full of female nudes. Upon settling in England she attended Bedales School where she won prizes for her nude drawings. She later studied art at Cambridge Arts, but whereas other artists might take an under-graduate course in order to find maturity, it was a serious car crash in 2000 that led her to land upon her adult style. Bed-ridden for 6 weeks with a broken back, she drew herself but had no access to paint; the only materials available to her other than pencils were her daily read - the Financial Times – and a Pritt-Stick* borrowed from the nurses’ station. In that bed, her distinctive collage technique was born and was developed.

The different shades of newspaper print create chiaroscuro – a visual effect dating back to the Renaissance, characterised by strong contrasts between light and dark - as a way of adding a 3 dimensional aspect to her subjects. This is used to punctuate the different parts of a human body, a face or an animal. In her nudes, the torn edges add a dreaminess to the uncompromising poses she depicts. On another level, extracts of specifically selected sections of print – a picture, a headline, some text – leap out from the image, adding depth and relevance to the story each individual picture tells. And to tell the story within is critical to each piece: ‘when someone undresses, they expose more than skin. I feel that in my work I am incorporating an exciting correlation between nakedness and information.’

A debut show in 2007 at The Gallery on Charing Cross Road in London sold out in 2 hours, and has led to commissions from high-profile clients ranging from serious art collectors, major financiers and significant figures in industry and politics. Major publications including the Financial Times itself and Time Magazine have also written about her work (see ‘press’ section here).

The global financial crisis in 2008 has been a major influence. First came a nude constructed from articles written about the Lehman Brothers collapse; then, a move away from figurative art via a commission for a portrait of disgraced financier Bernie Madoff – which drew solely on articles written about his downfall. This more recent topical theme to her work is also in evidence in subsequent pieces like a depiction of Gordon Brown’s ‘resignation face’ which is built from articles reporting on the event, printed on that day. Another picture inspired by the world of finance – of Wall Street’s bronze Bull statue – used tears not from the FT but from the Wall Street Journal. Other types of print used in her work include extracts from Manga comics for a portrait of a client of Japanese extraction. Wherever possible, the print relates to the personality on display.

In October 2010, one of her nudes was projected onto the giant LED screens in Piccadilly Circus as part of Samsung’s campaign to raise awareness for breast cancer. Her shows include 'The Financial Animal' at The Royal Exchange, July 2011, creating collaged animals that represent financial markets; a bear for a bear market and a bull for a bull market , as well as her Nudes, she has turned her hand to creating 'Neon' signs and '4 letter words' signs.

Archdale has always been interested in what we are told and how we are told it. The supposedly dispassionate biographical "information" of a newspaper is challenged when used to literally represent the grinning smile of the villain Bernie Madoff or Lord Kitchener's masculine call-to-arms is made comical when conducted through a floro neon moustache.

In 2013, Archdale's collages of Andy Murray and Roger Federer hung proudly opposite Centre Court at Queen's Club during the Queen's Tournament.

Archdale often uses articles about her subjects within her pieces; as is represented in the recent portraits of Andy Murray and Roger Federer which clearly illustrates their successes in 2012 and 2013 tennis championships.

Natasha now lives and works in Bayswater in London.

Natasha Archdale