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Nettie Wakefield: The artist reinventing pencil drawings

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Artist Nettie Wakefield talks films, inspiration and the best bed in London…

Nettie Wakefield

Nettie Wakefield

Can you tell us about your exhibition at The Exhibitionist Hotel?
It’s a group show consisting of four artists, including myself. I feel extremely privileged to be showing with these three extremely talented draftsmen and women (John Simpson, Kelly Blevins, Ian Hodgson), all specialising in drawing. The show is called ‘Hung, Drawn and Quartered’. It’s a print exhibition, where I will be showing three prints of the original drawings that I created during my residency at Banksy’s Dismaland. Taking my already existing reverse portraits series (pre-Dismaland) and giving them a Dismaland twist with Micky Mouse ears and party hats.

How did you get into art? Have you always been creative?
Yes, I came out quoting Shakespeare. But on a more serious note, drawing has been something I’ve done since I was a little girl. I knew when I left school that I wanted to go to art school, so I applied to Chelsea College of Art. However, when I got there, it wasn’t what I expected and I felt as though I didn’t fit in. So I dropped out and went to study Art History at Leeds University instead. I thought there must be something I didn’t get during my art foundation and so I went to figure that out. I’m not sure I ever really figured it out. After I graduated, having hardly picked up a pencil at university, I felt sad about being so disconnected from something I used to get such pleasure from. I applied to do an MA at Wimbledon in drawing and graduated two years ago. It was during my MA that things started to kick off.

Describe your aesthetic
Very detailed, focused, tight and specific.

Your work is mostly in pencil – what is it about this medium that you like?
There is no hiding with pencil. It’s where so many artists have started; the source of the stream. It’s perfect for me because I’m far more interested in tonality than colour. It also adds to the mystery of the piece. Most people associate it with the beginning of something, a plan. I prefer to use it as my main medium: the end product. I feel it is able to capture both simplicity and the provocative depth of the subject.

Nettie Wakefield – Reversed Portrait pencil series

Nettie Wakefield – Reversed Portrait pencil series

What inspires you?
Other people’s work! I get my inspiration mostly from my subjects. If I find something aesthetically interesting, for whatever reason, I have a compulsion to draw it. I get this quite a lot with old master paintings and I used to draw a lot in the National Gallery.

Favourite film?
This varies a lot. I get fixated on things. I still love Woody Allen. I thought Force Majeure (2014) was great. I really admire Mike Leigh’s work, especially Secrets & Lies (1996). As a kid I loved Fantasia (2000) and The NeverEnding Story (1984).

Country or town?
London, of course. I love Austria, the countryside, mountains and lakes are so beautiful.

Where do you like to go in London for;
Food: Mums fridge, Kipferl on Camden passage, The Cow in Westbourne Grove and Mildreds in Soho.
Drinks: My favourite pub is the Coach and Horses in Soho
Culture: I went to see Matthew Bourne’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at Christmas and went to the Opera to see ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ in summer last year in Salzburg.
A walk: Around the river in Barnes, where I grew up.
Shopping: Online. Order stuff, try it on, send it back…
Sleep: I once stayed at Dean Street Townhouse with an old boyfriend and I’ve never slept in such a comfortable bed.
Relaxing: Cinema

Florence!! #speechless #worthgoingup414steps #duomo #duomodifirenze #duomofirenze #duomoflorence #florence #Firenze #italy

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What’s your favourite view?
From the Duomo in Firenze, (Florence) where I spent a month as a 17-year-old. My first proper trip away from home.

One of life’s little luxuries?
Getting a massage! It’s a total necessity for me because I tense up so much when I work. Hand and shoulder cramp to the max.

What idea do you wish you’d had first?
Gavin Turk’s ‘Nomad’ (2003), a bronze cast sleeping bag.

Tomorrow’s a write off– what would you do with a free day?
Go running, have a roast, and go to the cinema.

Who do you like to follow on Instagram?
Well obviously @countryandtownhouse and my friends. Do I have to pick one? I just checked and I’m following 515 people, so apparently I’m not that fussy…

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Someone once said this to me: ‘Comparison is the death of joy’ – Mark Twain

Nettie Wakefield – Reverse Portrait

Nettie Wakefield – Reverse Portrait

What’s next?
Next in the pipeline is my second ever solo show… but this time it’s stateside, in February/March 2017 at the Jason Vass Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. I will be exhibiting drawings and sculptures with an entirely different subject matter… Stay tuned!

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