What A Wonderful World sat with London-based artist Natalia Kapchuk to delve deep into the realm of eco-art for our March Digital issue. Covering various topics, the discussion also includes insights into Kapchuk’s mind and creative process, as well as, her latest series of works, “The Lost Planet,” which will be on display at the renowned ME Dubai Hotel for a solo exhibition residency. Specializing in mixed media assemblage, Natalia Kapchuk is a proud ambassador for both the Parliamentary Society of Arts, Fashion, and Sports (UK) and the Better World Fund (BWF). Additionally, she is a philanthropist who supports organizations dedicated to protecting the environment and the world’s oceans. Through her environmentally focused art pieces, Kapchuk sheds light on the many ecological challenges that the world faces today.
Q. Where did your passion for art come about?
A. Since my youth, I have been fully immersed in the art world, courtesy of my talented mother, an accomplished artist and sculptor. Growing up in this environment, I cultivated a fervent passion for creativity and self-expression, which continues to drive me to this day. I derive my inspiration from the natural world, particularly its stunning beauty and grandeur, and the intricate balance among aa living beings. Through my art, I aim to capture the very essence of the natural world and communicate a message of shared responsibility to safeguard it. The world around us abounds with inspiration for those who seek it, whether in the vibrant hues of a sunset, the intricate complexities of Earth’s flora, or the vast expanse of the cosmos.
Q. Which places in the world during your travels have inspired your art?
A. In my philanthropic works and in my career as an artist, I have been fortunate enough to visit many breathtaking locations that have left lasting impressions on me. From the verdant forests of the Pacific Northwest to the rugged coastlines of Iceland, I have been moved by the majesty and beauty of the natural world. However, I firmly believe that one need not travel to far-away destinations to find inspiration. Even in our own backyards, there are hidden treasures waiting to be discovered and translated into works of art.
Q. Have your travels inspired you to explore new techniques or visuals in your
A. Without a doubt.
My first time embarking on a journey to Africa, for example, was an unparalleled, life-altering experience that left an indelible mark on both my art and my soul. The starkly beautiful deserts and vast landscapes that unfolded before my eyes ignited an inner flame that drove me to create my art piece, Saharan Sands, 2022. Employing a unique and sustainable flocking technique that utilized reclaimed sawdust, I was able to capture the essence of this aweinspiring terrain.
As I ventured across the world’s mighty oceans, I encountered not only splendor but also unbridled devastation. The heartbreaking sight of endless mountains of plastic pollution that ravaged our shores and seas was a jarring reminder of humanity’s reckless disregard for the environment. Moved by this profound experience, I channeled my creativity into my art, crafting one of my most extensive pieces, GPGP. Fragment N°98203, 2020, which incorporated the very debris I encountered during my travels. This striking piece serves as a poignant commentary on the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a dire symbol of the environmental crisis we face today.
Witnessing such destruction only strengthened my resolve to harness the power of my art as a potent tool to raise awareness and instigate change.
Q. Would you say your art is inspired by your experiences in life?
A. I would definitely say that my art is heavily influenced and inspired by my experiences in life. Each new experience, whether it’s traveling to a new place, meeting new people, or even facing personal challenges, shapes my perspective and informs my creative process.
For me, art is not just a form of self-expression but also a way of processing and interpreting the world around me. By drawing from my life experiences, I am able to infuse my work with a sense of authenticity and depth that resonates with viewers.
Moreover, as I explore new territories and encounter new cultures and ideas, I find that my art evolves and takes on new dimensions. The emotional, intellectual, and sensory input from my experiences ultimately coalesce into the final product.
Q. What do you want your art to say and how has it impacted the world or would you like it to impact the world?
A. As both an artist and a concerned citizen, I strive to use my creative prowess to raise awareness about environmental issues. Through my mixed media artwork, I aim to inspire individuals to take action towards a more sustainable future by highlighting pressing environmental challenges such as climate change, deforestation, plastic pollution, wildlife extinction, [etc].
By using a blend of recycled objects, natural fibers, and reclaimed woods, I hope to reflect the harm that human activity has caused to the planet and emphasize the need to restore it to its natural state. Although I know that my efforts may be limited, I firmly believe that every small step towards environmental consciousness can create a ripple effect that leads to larger-scale change.
Q. What mediums do you use in the creation of your art?
A. I make sure to prioritize sustainability and the use of eco-friendly materials in my creations. My art is a reflection of my deep-rooted concern for the environment and my desire to promote awareness of environmental issues. To achieve this, I often source recycled plastics, reclaimed wood, and other unconventional materials, for example, to create my mixed media artworks. So for those new to my work, I can confidently say they beget introspection and hold powerful messages within.
For those who are interested, I’d love to extend an invitation to my upcoming exhibition, “The Lost Planet,” which will be held at the stunning ME Dubai Hotel designed by the legendary Zaha Hadid. This exhibition will be a unique experience, as my art will showcase in this iconic architectural masterpiece running from March 4 to May 1, 2023.
Q. Your artwork demonstrates that you feel strongly about sustainability, when did that begin?
A. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been aware of how my work affects the environment. Even from an early age, my parents instilled in me an appreciation for the beauty and fragility of nature, and it’s something that’s stayed with me throughout my artistic journey.
But my passion for sustainability really took root when I became more conscious of the problems facing our planet. The more I learned about climate change, pollution, and other environmental issues, the more I felt a deep sense of responsibility to take action. It’s that urgency that fuels my commitment to creating art that can make a difference.
Q. What are your personal actions that you take to be more sustainable?
A. I am grateful to have the opportunity to incorporate sustainability into my art and personal life. While it is important to me to reduce my environmental impact, I recognize that there is always more that can be done. To this end, I try to take small steps each day, such as reducing my use of single-use plastics and packaging, conserving energy, and making ethical and sustainable choices when purchasing goods. I also appreciate the opportunity to use my platform as an artist to advocate for sustainability and raise awareness about environmental issues.
Q. Tell me more about the sustainability within your art?
A. A vast majority of my designs utilize sustainable and eco-friendly materials that I source through a variety of channels. These items include recycled plastics, reclaimed wood, discarded materials, and more. It is in this process of up-cycling and repurposing these unconventional materials that I find immense joy, giving them new life through my art.
Admittedly, refining these materials can be challenging, but the rewards make it all worthwhile. Choosing materials that are safe for the environment and do not contribute to plastic pollution is crucial to me. This often means researching materials and their sources and experimenting with different techniques to achieve the desired effect. I also have to be aware of the limitations of the materials and their durability over time, as I want my art to last for generations.
Q. Which is your favorite piece of your work and why?
A. As an artist, I find it difficult to choose a favorite piece of my work. Each piece is a unique expression of my creativity and has its own story to tell. I pour my heart and soul into every piece, and they are all special to me in their own way. It’s like asking a parent to choose their favorite child – it’s just not possible. While I may have pieces that hold a particular sentimental value or pieces that challenged me in new ways, I love them all equally and appreciate the journey that went into creating each one.
Q. Where is left on your bucket list to travel?
A. Hmm, great question.
One of the top destinations I have yet to visit is Bhutan. A place known for its commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation, Bhutan measures its success based on Gross National Happiness rather than Gross Domestic Product, which I find extremely fascinating. Moreover, this small Himalayan kingdom made it a constitutional obligation to maintain at least 60% forest cover at all times, and it is the world’s only carbon-negative country! It is in Bhutan’s dedicated focus toward preserving its cultural heritage and natural beauty that makes me eager to explore this pioneering destination.
Q. Can you share some general advice with our readers on how to promote sustainability while traveling?
A. Promoting sustainability when traveling is a shared responsibility that I take seriously. There are several sustainable practices we can adopt to achieve this goal. Firstly, an one of the easiest, is using a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water is a simple way to reduce plastic waste. Secondly, using public transportation like buses, trains, and subways when possible is more eco-friendly than renting a car or taking a taxi.
Choosing eco-friendly accommodations is becoming easier as more and more hotels, hostels, and rental properties are now offering environmentally sustainable options such as energy- efficient appliances, composting facilities, and recycling programs to name a few. Additionally, supporting local businesses that use sustainable practices such as sourcing ingredients locally and selling eco-friendly products is vital
Reduce waste by bringing reusable bags, utensils, and containers can significantly cut down on the amount of single-use plastics that end up in landfills or the ocean. I could go on and on, really.
There are many more ways to promote sustainability while traveling that can contribute to a better world and by being mindful of our impact on the environment, we can all do our part in reducing our carbon footprint and protecting this sacred and beautiful planet!
Material provided by the press office of Natalia Kapchuk at FprBuro Communications Agency.
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