Portrait by René Michaud, Bliss Photographic.
Nathan Bell was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the product of two families with broad and deep creative roots. Throughout his youth he was encouraged and supported in his artistic endeavours.
Having first studied jewellery making in high school, Nathan attended the Alberta College of Art and Design, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jewellery and Metals in 2000.
To date he has expanded his preferred media to include metals, woods, fabrics, natural materials, and found objects. Whenever possible, he incorporates salvaged materials, locally harvested domestic timber, and scraps and off-cuts deemed “unusable” by others. Still informed by a jeweller’s sensibilities - meticulous construction, and intimate scale - Nathan’s work is now primarily sculptural. He draws heavily on historical aesthetics, but tints and twists them with a blend of mystery, curiosity, and playfulness.
The Salle Sublime is Nathan’s vision, a home for his oeuvre, an imagined, perfect room, filled with oddities and artwork, objects of intrigue, beauty, and wonder.
Nathan lives and works in Black Diamond, Alberta.
I am my family’s memory keeper; a custodian of our genealogical record, images, and stories. I am also an avid collector of antiques, both purchased and more importantly, inherited. Heirlooms are the embodiment of family history and lore, a tangible link to what was. The past is ever-present in my consciousness, and therefore in my practice.
Many of my pieces incorporate vintage objects, scraps, salvaged materials, or gifts of nature. I use these for the unique aesthetic qualities they lend, to calm an anxious compulsion to preserve historical detritus, and to reduce my own environmental footprint. I combine these artifacts with new materials, primarily wood and metal, shaped and finished based on historical forms and using traditional techniques.
But these artworks are not simply reproductions. Antiquarian forms are a natural conduit for concepts of personal, familial, and cultural memory; recollections of joy, of hardship, of grief, and of things that never quite panned out. These stories reveal themselves in the reimagined structure and details of seemingly everyday items, or in adornment bound to the mundane. These heirlooms are newly crafted, but the encapsulated hopes and memories are old and genuine.