#4 Natasha Muluswela, 2022/23 Alternative Pathway Awards
50 opportunities for 50 years
“Working from home is quite difficult, as space is very hard to come by! So, it's nice to have that separation between home and the studio.”
Visual artist Natasha Muluswela set up studio space at Acme’s Warton House building in November 2022 as one of three recipients of the Alternative Pathway Awards. It’s her first proper experience in a studio space, she says, and “that’s what attracted me to apply in the first place, the studio space and, additionally, the support.”
Launched for Acme’s 50th anniversary, the three new awards intend to widen access for artists from all backgrounds and experiences by increasing the diversity and representation of voices in contemporary art.
A Genesis Kickstart Fund project, supported by The Genesis Foundation, the awards will support early-career artists in necessitous circumstances who face additional barriers to sustaining their professional practice.
“For me, having faced rejection after rejection, it's a stamp of approval that I am in the right direction. I advise anyone reading this to just go ahead and apply for opportunities like these and to make good use of it.”
Over the next six months, Natasha will explore two bodies of work, “La Noire de...(1966), which speaks of domestic slavery, migration and what it means for Africans to take space away from the Diaspora” and a project called ‘Politicising Fashion: Power to the Hood’ which explores "the politicisation, demonisation and the criminalisation behind hoodies and tracksuits on the bodies of black men.”
She also plans to use the studio space to “throw myself in the deep end” by painting more and introducing more materials and experimentation to her work.
Alongside the stability provided by the award and knowing that she “has the space to work for six months,” for Natasha, another reason for applying for the awards is a sense of community. “When I was leaving the other day, I bumped into another artist, and it’s nice to be in an environment where you’re constantly seeing other artists and you don’t feel like you’re doing it by yourself.”
Having come across a lot of short-term residency placements, Natasha sees the Alternative Pathway Awards as providing time to actually settle down.
“Opportunities like this are so vital to an early artist's career because it's very difficult to navigate the art world by yourself.” For Natasha, “having guidance and an oversight of other creatives and mentors means that not only can you fully immerse yourself in your work, but you also have the support of the Acme community and the financial backing to do it.”