Notes on Cultural Peeps Podcast Episode 15: Narbi Price
Welcome to Episode 15 of the Cultural Peeps Podcast. My guest today is the Painter and Artist, Narbi Price.
Narbi lives and works in Gateshead and Newcastle. He originally studied Fine Art at Northumbria University between 1999 and 2002 and then went on to complete an MFA in Fine Art at Newcastle University between 2008 and 2010.
Narbi was the Journal Culture Awards Visual Artist of the Year in 2018 and the winner of the Contemporary British Painting Prize in 2017.
He has featured in Phaidon’s prestigious Vitamin P3 – New Perspectives in Painting publication and was also a prizewinner in the John Moores Painting Prize in 2012.
We talk quite a bit about Narbis’ Professional Practice in this Episode, so I think it’s probably helpful to provide an overview about how he works. –Narbi often researches the location of a chosen event. That can range from significant moments which might have been captured in music, film, television or places that might have witnessed violence, death or social change. These sites can be explicitly historical or famous or they can be personal or forgotten.
He then visits those specific places and documents the site using photography. Back in the studio, he then uses those photos as the basis for his paintings, focusing on the abstract, formal and painterly qualities of those images.
If you want to take a closer look at Narbi’s work, then there is a link to his website in the Podcast description. There is also information about upcoming exhibitions on there as well as a detailed biography.
This Episode of the podcast is made up of 2 separate interviews.
The first interview took place in December 2017, when Narbi was preparing for 2 major exhibitions at Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland, both of which form a major part of his PhD, an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded collaborative doctoral award that is running in partnership with Newcastle University and Woodhorn Museum.
One of those exhibitions featured 30 new paintings, produced specifically for that show and were the result of both time spent in and around the town of Ashington and also studying the work of the famous Ashington Group (also known as the Pitmen Painters). The other exhibition that was shown simultaneously at Woodhorn was curated by him and pulled together paintings from the Ashington Group that had either not been publicly seen or exhibited before.
Its probably worth also providing a quick note of context about the Ashington Group here; Woodhorn Museum is located on an ex-colliery site. That original site, and the surrounding village has previously provided the inspiration for The Ashington Group which was formed in the 1930’s by a group of coal miners with a desire to learn about Art Appreciation. The Ashington Group’s work has enjoyed varying levels of critical success since the 1940’s and recently has been the subject for Lee Hall’s play, ‘Pitmen Painters‘ which has had theatrical runs at the National Theatre and on Broadway.
My second conversation with Narbi took place in July 2019, a year after his exhibitions at Woodhorn and when Narbi was in the process of completing the written part of his PhD submission and working on a range of new painting and curatorial projects.
In our conversations we talk about what it feels like to commit to being a full-time Artist and how this is often initially balanced with other forms of employment. A really interesting theme emerges about the perceived difference between being a student or recent graduate and being a professional practitioner, and how that chasm can often feel huge. This is something Narbi noticed when he returned to Newcastle University as a guest Lecturer. We talk about how there is rarely a clear moment when an artist consciously makes that transition or crosses a line into becoming a professional practitioner, but instead how it is often a more gradual, ongoing process of self-awareness, self-discovery and confidence building.
The route of being a professional Artist is something that can feel very different to other career pathways in the cultural sector. Often, other types of employment are structured around contracts and defined job titles that frequently serve to formalise progression processes and can help play the role of an esteem indicators.
Both of our conversations took place at B&D studios in central Newcastle, which is where Narbi’s studio is located. We talk about the development of B&D as a community interest company (or CIC as it’s sometimes referred to within the sector) and how it’s governed. Through this, we also touch on Narbi’s involvement in Newcastle’s wider Artistic and Cultural landscape and particularly about the DIY nature of local music scenes – and how this has inadvertently informed his approach to mentoring and peer support, and how hopefully these informal support mechanisms and collaborations result in a stronger overall artistic scene that benefits everyone.
For further information about Narbi Price, please visit:
Links to Podcast content:
B & D Studios:
Newcastle Arts Centre:
Graduate Studios Northumbria (GSN):
Fine Art Visiting Speakers Programme:
New Bridge Project:
The Ashington Group/ Pitman Painters:
Bill (William) Feaver:
Pitmen Painters: The Ashington Group 1934 – 1884 (Book by Bill Fever):
Tate Project: Art School Educated: Curriculum Change in UK Art Schools 1960 – 2010:
Melanie Stephenson: Teaching Collections and Fine Art Pedagogy (Abstract)
Basic Design Course (At Newcastle University):
Links to Narbi’s Solo Exhibition at Woodhorn Museum:
Robert Lyon & Jimmy Floyd:
Narbi Price – Artist (Facebook)
Tom English (Maximo Park):
Painter of the Year:
Royal Academy Summer Show 2019:
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