The latest systemic drawings of London-based artist Natalie Ryde, installed in the airy multi-functional space at Carousel, stand in stark contrast to loud chatter, dazzling lights and psychedelic rides that we usually associate with fun fair rides. The nine works, assembled in the exhibition ‘The Other Other Way’, contain delicate, ethereal-looking structures whose fine coloured lines extend to times and places far beyond the short-lived excitement of a merry-go-round.
The exhibition opens with Push Me, Pull You, one square meter of pure canvas space from which emerges a tender circular net of orange, yellow and golden brown fibres. Arranged in a tight, squeezed pattern, they occasionally break into irregular holes or even more concentrated knots and the oppositional dynamic of pulling and pushing becomes more apparent. The artist follows the theme of unsettlement with other artworks whose titles reference precarious or unsuccessful situations, such as The Last One to Remember, Gasp and We Never Met. Natalie’s soft, humane drawings display visual tentativeness that seems to arise from the artist’ observations of life’s intrinsically incomplete operations.
As we sit at a big table and talk about her inspiration, she confirms her ‘pull’ towards the notion of process which here manifests as a meticulous and repetitive activity often resulting in openness and instability.
Natalie, however, primarily focuses on processes that involve bodily motion and its external and internal expressions. Several drawings on display comprise stretched thin filaments that gradually morph into smaller and larger sacks and evoke the alveoli of the human respiratory mechanism. Other works, among them the oldest In My Veins, contain more clearly defined anatomical structures, with their elaborate folds and curves vibrating as if coming from a beating heart.
Hands, yet another body part, are encoded in the haptic nature of each drawing and attain a more weighted symbolism when Natalie mentions her lace-making ancestors.
Are the drawings partly expressions of her daydreaming about family members from her past?
Could they be finely-lined portals into times of earnest manual labour?
Of course, none of this needs to be determined and the fragile, almost immaterial meshes remain floating around the exhibition room as webs ensnaring the viewer into their quiet intensity.
Natalie Ryde comes from Scotland where she obtained her BA in Jewellery and Silversmithing from Edinburgh College of Art and where she most likely developed a penchant for intricate and precise design. Her exhibition, The Way, which took place last year, comprised works that superseded this new series in scale and elaboration. She feels that pieces at Carousel are in many ways fragments from the larger canvases which she now approached as independent units and enlarged for more immediate reaction. Tangible unravelling occurs here, with the artist deconstructing parts that used to fit together and setting them adrift, enabling them to be seen in other contexts. Looking around, the drawings and their anthropomorphic formations transform before my eyes into complicated scientific diagrams and then again into sensual fishnet textures that recall the femininity of lace. By the end of my stay, my feelings sway alongside the gentle rhythmic ripples of Natalie’s dense nets and her minimal compositions provide maximum contemplating ground.
Despite the subdued appearance of her works, the artist balances their suppressed visibility with more visceral bodily engagement. The legendary Agnes Martin’s canvases are unassuming, too, steeped in faint blues, yellows and pinks and yet they wield an immense power over the viewer. It is often art that hums and purrs in the corner that has the ability to connect with us on an intimate level and speak to us ‘the other, other way’.
You can see Natalie Ryde’s exhibition until 27 February 2016 so hurry up!
If you miss it, Natalie’s studio is located in Hackney Wick and visits can be organized by appointment.