Interview: Christine Norton
Luca Curci talks with Christine Norton during ANIMA MUNDI FESTIVAL 2019 – CONSCIOUSNESS at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Christine Norton is a self-taught humanist photographer from Trinidad and Tobago. She combines years of work in social development with her interest in photography to focus on documentary photography and mixed media fine art photography. Christine’s interest in capturing the emotion, and the complexity of everyday relationships and environments leads her to continually pursue evolving forms of expression in photography. She has a love for the master print in fine art and the quality of papers. She has received guidance from amazing mentors through workshops by National Geographic and Nikon Mentors. Her father Noel P. Norton, Sebastian Belaustegui, Robert Rodriguez Jr., Raul Touzon and Arthur Meyerson have been critics and teachers. She is a nationally registered photographer in Trinidad and Tobago and has had her work published by National Geographic Traveller (UK), The Circle Arts (France), Dodho Online Magazine (USA) and UNICEF. She was the winner of the 2018 and 2017 Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago Prize in Photography, a winner of the PX3 Gold – People’s Choice Award – First Prize – Culture, 2015, PX3 Silver in the Book Series (Documentary), 2011, PX3 Bronze in the category in Press Nature Environmental, 2011. She has also received more than 7 Honorable Mentions between 2009 and 2017 in international photographic competitions. She was a participant at the 2019 Clio Art Fair in New York City. Her work is currently displayed at the ItsLiquid show at the Venice Biennale in Italy. Christine recently held a solo show on 16-18 May 2019 at the 101 Gallery Art Gallery , Port of Spain, Trinidad, under the title: After Basquiat: Fragmented Imagery |Mischievous Thoughts. Her work is also exhibited at the Caribbean Art Gallery in Barbados and Horizons Art Gallery in Trinidad and Tobago.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Christine Norton – Art for me is the expression of quite observation. It is sharing with the world all the things I see and feel, the emotion but even the sounds and movements using photography as against video. Nothing is more mentally engaging for me than to walk through an art gallery full of artistic expressions, the opportunity to see and “hear” someone else’s inner voice and to learn from it. I am trying for people to “feel” what other people are experiencing and to somehow “be there” in the moment for the time that the viewer stands in front of my work.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
CN – I consider myself a humanist photographer. I am from Trinidad and Tobago and my father was a well-known photographer. He influenced my work with his form of storytelling in a single photograph. I come at humanist photography too, because I have worked in social development for over 30 years. My job involved observing people in their environments and assessing the quality of their lives. Based on those findings I would work with other people and networks to help develop improvements. This role as observer clearly lays the foundation for my photography, but I am constantly struggling, through my work in documentary or fine art composite photography, to find a way to engage the viewer in hope that they would be moved to contribute to change in some form.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And the contemporary art?
CN – I think that the role of the artist is to be an innovator; to break new ground.; to solve challenges; to show people perhaps things that they may miss as we bustle through life. The artist shows a way forward and engages people,sometimes just sensitises people. The artist is even a maker of peace in a noisy world.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
CN – I guess that I have been surrounded by photography and paintings all of my life. My father was a photographer. However, I also look at the work of Masters in storytelling both painters and documentary and fine art photographers. People such as Dorothea Lange, Steve McCurry, National Georgraphic photographers. I go to galleries quite a lot in Trinidad but also in the USA, Canada, Europe. I spend hours just walking, seeing and questioning the work of other artists. I also tend to be inspired by people who are not necessarily in galleries and who may go unnoticed but who often have a lot to say. I find many of those artists in books and magazines prepared by The Circle Arts Foundation and the World Wide Art Books.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
CN – It’s sometimes challenging balancing the need to please the viewer and my personal desire for expression. I prefer just to be able to run free and that means removing any clutter from my mind that can act as a barrier to my personal creativity. I find time more and more to just sit and work and that I find pleasing but I am trying to make that time rich inspirational creative time free from impediments.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire you?
CN – I love the concept of the festival – Anima Mundi – Consciousness. This connection between living things on the planet. How wonderful! The quiet look of a young boy seated at a River Bank one early morning in Varanasi, India, taking part in a daily ritual with his family along a natural waterway that is cherished by law as a human in its own right. How connected is that? I was truly inspired to be part of this ItsLiquid festival and to share how I am trying to interpret this living connection.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
CN – My art focuses on the daily ritual of people in Varanasi, India, who every morning, conscious of the need for spiritual cleansing and blessing turn to their “holy waters” – the Ganges to start their day. This experience that I am sharing through my work was one of the most phenomenal emotional awakenings that I have ever witnessed. To stand there and witness the consciousness of so many people who without impediment or fear of ridicule showed a deep commitment, community connection and reverence to the holy waters of the Ganges, to daily ritual. I have never in my life had such a similar experience and I want people to stand quietly in front of my work and feel what I felt on that morning.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
CN – I have just discovered the ITSLIQUID platform and truly appreciate it. Since I live on the other side of the world in Trinidad, this platform opens up opportunities for artist like myself to have a chance to show work and learn from artists in Europe, and Asia. I appreciate its tasteful selection of articles and photographs of work across the world and enjoy reading the interviews from artists so that I can learn about them and engage in their journeys. If I obtain a sale from my work, its just icing on the cake that allows me to do me and share more.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
CN – Well, I am getting to know ITSLIQUID right at the moment when you are hosting CONSCIOUSNESS at the time of the Venice Biennale. This is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the location of the event, the space in which the exhibition takes places, its access to a wide-cross section of the public is all optimum. My engagement in the process running up to CONSCIOUSNESS has been very efficient and I feel proud to be part of the event.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
CN – Yes. I think ITSLIQUID is already on the forefront of artist support. I like the idea of interviews as well because it gives me a voice to share my background and ideas. I have a chance to show and sell my work and hopefully we can develop a partnership over time that’s mutually beneficial.
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