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Natalie Balkham

My art is a platform to explore and make sense of my own psyche, and to visually display how life feels for me. My main goal is to create social talking points on taboo subjects such as mental health so that others who may be going through the same things as me may feel less alone, and so those who are supporting people in similar situations can gain greater understanding of how it feels. In a world where information is power, I hope to help other people who may be struggling to verbalise what they are thinking, and hopefully feel a little bit less alone in the world.

Metal is a great medium for my subject matter, and I find it deeply therapeutic to work with. My favourite thing about blacksmithing is it versatility. I can begin with an object as heavy and non-descript as bar of metal and transform into something that can be either delicate and elegant or brutalistic and rusty. Working as I do with themes of trauma and healing from abuse, I am drawn to metal’s symbolic qualities. Its strength, and the process of metamorphosis through fire, are evocative and richly satisfying.

Armour is my third project in a series about healing from trauma, especially the trauma of domestic violence, which I experienced as both a child and an adult.  It expresses my relationship with the human world as I move out of agoraphobia. While it is redolent of my self-isolation and defensiveness, and a tendency to scare off others before they have a chance to harm me, it is also what allows me to enter the world again. 

Dissertation – An investigation into how and why craft heals your mental health; exploring the work of Billie Bond (Breaking Depression exhibition)