Updated: Sep 2, 2021
“Art is the whole process, not necessarily the final piece.
If someone has touched or worked with something it is more special because it has more soul.”
Using natural materials collected by hand in the island and a sustainable mindset with zero waste are the key points of the creative process of Nathan Slate, a British artist who moved last January to Madeira, even if he has visited the island many times in the last 20 years.
We interviewed him in his home located in the north of the Island, where he works surrounded by nature.
He told us he always wanted to be an artist, but since it was very hard to make money like that he waited until he had a house and an economic stability before dedicating himself completely to art. Now he would never do a different job.
He started for the first time in UK while he was working in a restaurant, working with clothes and ceramics in his spare time.
Clothes and ceramics at the Nathan’s studio
Coming to Madeira made him appreciate the culture and the environment of the island so much that he decided to introduce them into his art.
He does that by following local traditions in his creative process, for example by using the loom to make clothes and a basket making technique he has seen from locals.
He also collects material from the island, from the willow gathered in the levadas to the clay from the beach and the wool from the farmers.
His inspiration comes from inside and makes him seeing beauty in anything he finds outside his house.
“Art is the whole process”, Nathan collecting clay from the beach near his house
The meaning behind his paintings is related to his idea about art.
He doesn’t want to waste anything, so when he makes ceramic and has some clay left, he mixes it with water to create paint. He doesn’t want to throw anything in the bin as he says that they would throw it in the sea or in the environment in the mainland of Portugal.
Creating clay paint
This is part of a whole process, first he makes clay vases and then he paints with the remaining clay as the last step.
Sometimes the dirty fabrics used as a support for the creation of the ceramics are turned directly into paintings, usually he keeps them like that, but sometimes he adds spray or additional paint.
Clay on canvas
Most of his artworks are for sale, but he told us he wants to keep a particular art piece for himself, a vase which got broken by the wind since he has no window in his workplace which he repaired using gold. A chef wanted to buy it once he put the picture on Instagram of the repaired object, but he loves it so much now that he doesn’t want to sell it anymore.
Jewellery and the vase repaired with gold leaves on the left
For the Revival exhibition at the Caravel art center he is going to bring some of his artworks in a new room which will be opened for the occasion which will look similar to his studio in Arco de Sao Jorge.
By Steven Gheno