Comprehension Through Installations with Natalie Ryan
Written by: Anthony Hagan All Images courtesy of Natalie Ryan and Photographer Matthew Stanton

Natalie Ryan is an amazing artist that uses art as a means to understand the incomprehensible.   She understands that not all things can be easily grasped but is aware that having an outlet to construct individual possible answers is very important.  Natalie’s outlet is multi-disciplinary expression that leans heavily towards installations.  Her work is a amalgamation of taxidermy, sculpture, science and fine art that create forms that are extremely beautiful, sometimes astonishing and always aweing.   We commend Natalie and fully cheer and encourage her quest to understand the misunderstood and the inexplicable.

“I work across a range of mediums so there are a wide variety of tools: microscopes, cameras, a large selection …”

Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?

I grew up in Melbourne firstly in the South Eastern suburbs and then along the coast throughout my teens. I am currently living in inner city Melbourne. Our parents were incredible and always encouraged myself and my two sisters to let our imaginations run wild, resulting in mischief and mayhem. I had a fantastic childhood but I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at age 5 which meant I spent a lot of time at The Royal Children’s Hospital. I think this really cemented my fear of death and illness from a young age as sadly there were children in there with terminal illness. I was also aware of the medicalised body which is something I have been unconsciously drawn to in my practice. Another element of my childhood which also features in my work is a love for animals, as a child I had countless pets which I cherished dearly.

What does your art mean to you?

A way of trying to process and understand the things I find the hardest to comprehend.

Your style incorporates various styles including science, taxidermy, silicon sculptures, pencil drawings, etc. – how do you describe your form of art, what tools do you use for the creation of your work and how did you create your personal style?

I would describe my practice as mostly installation based and multi-disciplinary. I work across a range of mediums so there are a wide variety of tools: microscopes, cameras, a large selection of pencils & pens and anything that I can use to sculpt with from cutlery to dental tools.   


Where do you usually get inspiration from?

I find inspiration in such a wide range of things from science and nature to art and cinema. At the moment I am working with specimens at a Veterinary Anatomy Museum, which are extremely inspiring.

What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?

A lot of people assume that because my work contains elements of dead animals that I have somehow had a hand in their death or I am malicious in someway, which can be frustrating at times as I’m very passionate about animal rights. Recently at an opening a old man came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes and said aggressively ‘Natalie you are one sick lady’ it kind of reminded me of a scene from the horror movie ‘Drag me to Hell’ ha.

I recently did an artist talk to a group of university students studying art therapy in palliative care. After the talk a few students came up and spoke to me about their experiences with death and grief, and how they had been receptive to the work. It was such a compliment that my practice was able to allow a platform for that discussion.

Which artist/s or sculptor/s do you look up to the most?

Mauriizo Cattelan, Stelarc, Teresa Margolles, David Shrigley, Pip Ryan, Angela Singer, Ron Mueck, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Goya, Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, John Isaacs

Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?

I like an eclectic sense of style and a man who has the ability to make clothing unique to them by the way they wear it. I really appreciate a man who is humble when he has all the attributes that could make him otherwise.   

What is your personal life philosophy?

Enjoy life because when you die it’s over.

Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?

My Dad, he died when I was in my early twenties and I’d give anything to spend more time with him. He was such an incredible man; he knew how to party and loved life!

What is your favorite movie and why?

Videodrome, the prosthetics are amazing and I love the way Cronenberg portrays the mental state manifested in the physical body.

When was your most recent art epiphany and what was it about?

The importance of not succumbing to the pressure placed on artists to keep working within a certain style.  

There are a lot of art snobs out there, what are your views on the consumption and appreciation of art by all?

I don’t think art should just exist within the industry bubble, I think art should be appreciated in the public sphere.

How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?

Through my website:

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