Friday Artist Feature: Natasha Godfrey

Welcome to Friday Artist Features! Every Friday we feature an artist whose work often includes themes of urbanism and mobility.

This week we are featuring London-based Natasha Godfrey, an illustrator specializing in architecture and botanical drawings.

Illustration: Natasha Godfrey

Traveling around the world inspired me to draw and fill up sketchbooks but it was the pandemic that meant I could take my hobby to a more professional place and create a business around my work, focusing on illustrating my favorite areas of London; the South East around Camberwell, Peckham and East Dulwich as well as botanical illustrations at and around the Chelsea Physic Gardens.

-Natasha Godfrey
Illustration: Natasha Godfrey

Pedestrian Space: What is the relationship between the city and your art? How does urbanism influence your work?

Natasha: I first started drawing when I traveled. I like to draw what I find interesting and cities are full of interesting things and places to draw. I mostly traveled to other European countries, so I was lucky to see a lot of very good and very interesting architecture in different cities. There is so much to be said about a place from their architecture, it conveys a lot about the people who live there, each has a personality of its own.

Cities draw artists to them, this often means that you have so many levels of art and creativity around the already beautiful architectural buildings, street art and artists adapting their own houses and shops.

Illustration: Natasha Godfrey

London especially is a really interesting case. Because it has grown organically over hundreds of years, so you have a real mix of styles. You will see old traditional architecture next to modern shops, which is interesting to draw.

Lastly, for me, drawing is a way to capture a memory of a place or thing that I have done When I first traveled, I drew to capture a place I visited, to create a memory of it. Now living in London, I want to capture this city and the places I visit and the community I live in, to one day look back on and remember. I think a lot of people who buy my work buy it so that they can remember the places I draw as well.

With illustration, pen and ink. I have worked with watercolors for some of my botanical drawings working over them with pen once they have dried. I use charcoal at life drawing sessions. When I travel I photograph, and I often work from the photos I take.

Natasha on the mediums she works with
Illustration: Natasha Godfrey

Pedestrian Space: How do you move around the city and what is your favorite mode? 

Natasha: I like to walk around cities. You see so much more and have so much more scope for looking around, seeing all the details and spotting something you might otherwise have missed. You can stop and watch and look in a way you can’t when you’re on a faster mode of transport.

Travel has always inspired my work, especially character-filled cities like Rome, Paris and New York City – each so different and individual with interesting and beautiful architecture.

Natasha Godfrey

Pedestrian Space: What is your favorite street or sidewalk space in your city of residence

Natasha: I like the Chelsea area between Battersea and the Albert Bridge. Beautiful classic architecture, varying in style but really interesting. I created a walk for KCAW last year and I spent a lot of time walking around the little streets, admiring the houses there. In late spring there are wisterias trees growing on many of the buildings, which just adds something extra. Around that area, there is also the Chelsea Physic Gardens where there is a mix of garden and classic architecture – a wonderful place in the summer. Another area, South East London around Camberwell/ Peckham/East Dulwich – Camberwell Church Street, Rye Lane and Lordship Lane. I live here, so I am biased but I really like the independent shops, pubs and restaurants. Each is very different and there is a mix of traditional and modern architecture that is really interesting. The shops create a really interesting subject to draw.

Illustration: Natasha Godfrey

Pedestrian Space: Are there other pedestrian areas in your city you like to spend time in or appreciate?

Natasha: The London Southbank from the Royal Festival Hall to London Bridge is one of my favorites – mostly for looking to the north side of the river. The architecture has so many layers, the buildings on the Thames which are a mix of old and modern, the classic architecture of St Paul’s cathedral and then further along the modern skyscrapers of central London. I like drawing it at night as well as the lighting creates a completely different view.

Illustration: Natasha Godfrey

Pedestrian Space: What challenges, as well as opportunities, do you see with issues of walkability in your city?

Natasha: In London – the size! It is a huge city and to walk around it and see everything you want to see is a very long walk indeed. I find with London, that heading central or out is easy enough but if you want to go sideways it proves a lot harder and longer. I like finding areas I like though, exploring those in a day and so traveling from area to area proves easier.

Illustration: Natasha Godfrey

Pedestrian Space: What is your perception of sustainable urbanism in London?

Natasha: I think there is a big difference between central London and greater London; mostly as very few live in central London, whereas you find communities and areas where people live they want to create change and nurture green spaces where they live. I also think small businesses are wanting to do more to promote sustainability so these areas are the ones that are seeing efforts to make a change. There is also slightly more space to do this compared to central London.

Visit Natasha online at https://www.natashagodfrey.co.uk/