OCA Magazine: Tell us, please, about yourself and your creative activity / work

Natalie Bays: I am a cultural project manager and i run an organisation called The NO Collective. I organise creative festivals, events and programmes to help people be more involved in the  arts and to be more creative. I also co-host a weekly radio show on Phoenix 98 FM where i discuss art and culture with a range of artists, musicians and theatre makers from across  the UK. As a visual artist I create artworks from a collection of archive photography which  explore time, culture and my connection to people and place.  

OCA: How did you choose your path and who is your role model in the creative space or life? 

NB: As a child I was always drawing, making and performing. I loved to sing and make art. My  mum was my biggest creative influence growing up and I was inspired by the work that she  made in college. She has always taught me to love what i do and I love being creative in  everything I do. Artists I love include UK artists Bob & Roberta Smith for his humour, Jeremy  Deller for his humanism and Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed for his playfulness. 

OCA: What is your main achievement in 2021-2022?

NB: In 2021 I created a co-designed public light festival in Romford, the town where I work and  grew up; called ‘Illusionarium’. It was the first of its kind and was on a much larger scale  than anything Ihad created before. There were 15 artworks designed and built by local  people and artists. They were displayed all over the town for a month alongside an arts  education trail. The artworks included a greenwall artwork opposite the station entrance  and a giant neon sheep in a shopping centre, which have both been kept up.  

OCA: What is the main feature that makes you and your art/work unique?

NB: I make work and cultural projects that link places and people that are hyper-local [very  close to me] with art work and experiences that are worlds away. I feel that I have a  responsibility to share the unique experiences that I have been lucky enough to have over  my years and I translate this through my art work and programming.  

OCA: Tell us, please, about the events of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London) and projects that you have already taken part in and how does ECG influence your creativity and success in your work?

NB: I am involved with the ECG Eurasian Film Festival, helping it to be a success alongside the  Romford Film festival in London every year. I have been to many art exhibitions and fashion  shows as part of the guild too. I have been an advocate for the guild since I joined almost 5 years ago. I have been on the advisory board now for 2 years also which allows me to  explore different art practises, and network with lots of different creatives from across the world. This helps me to expand my knowledge in what creativity can be and learn about  cultures that I knew little about before. 

OCA: What is your motivation and the main aim of your creativity?

NB: My passion is to make a difference in society with my creativity. Whether that be through  creating a project where people can get involved and get to be creative, or supporting other  artists inspire with their work. I am motivated by the encouragement of the people around  me, wanting to be part of a creative collective making change together. I am inspired by the  results of democratic art practise and artwork that is make as a collaboration. 

OCA: What would you wish for the members of the Guild and other creative people, just starting their career?

NB: I would like other members of the guild to continue to love being creative. Even if you have  times where your art practise is not working the way you would like it to, you should just be  unapologetically creative in everything else you do until you get your spark back! I think it is also important to never stop educating yourself in different things. Culture, heritage,  geography, everything and anything.