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Cardiff Character: Natasha Graves

Princes Trust winner Natasha Graves stands outside her art workshop holding one of her concrete moulds for painting

The Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador of the Year talks about wellness, facing fear – and her love of working with concrete

Princes Trust winner Natasha Graves stands outside her art workshop holding one of her concrete moulds for painting
Natasha Graves, winner of The Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador of the Year award holding one of her concrete pieces, ready for painting.

In a pretty workshop, nestled in the Brecon Beacons, artist Natasha Graves, 35, is setting up her materials. She’s preparing a workshop for children to get creative with an unusual material – concrete.

Natasha, from Cwmbran, smiles as she carefully places the concrete materials onto a table, her eyes lit up with excitement. 

“People can’t believe they’re working with it because it’s such a unique thing,” she says of her chosen medium.

Her inspiration for working with concrete came from her father and grandfather. Both were builders and sparked a fascination with the material.

“Conventionally, we live in concrete buildings, we work in concrete buildings, we shop in concrete buildings. But to actually hold it in your hand and feel how tactile it is is something quite special,” enthuses Natasha.

Prince's Trust award winner Natasha Graves setting up art materials for a children's workshop
Natasha sets up her materials for her children’s art workshop.

A special award

Natasha’s warmth comes straight from the Caribbean, where she was raised. She moved from St. Vincent in 2004 and though she misses the beautiful weather says she feels more creative in Wales.

That creative spirit helped to earn her the Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador of the Year award on October 17; something which has underscored a rich period of growth for Natasha and her business – nGraves.  But, her pathway to success was sometimes painful.

Dealing with depression

Though it’s hard to tell from her sunny smile, Natasha has overcome darker times after experiencing anxiety and depression, manifested as unexplained physical symptoms.

“I had a colonoscopy to figure out why I was experiencing intense pain, not realising it was anxiety and depression. I was in total denial,” said Natasha. 

Luckily, she was put in touch with a therapist who helped her to process trauma and find ways of effectively managing her symptoms.

“Talk therapy really helped,” she says. “My therapist introduced me to mindfulness and that saved me. Being able to talk to someone and have them listen was really important.” 

Natasha talks about wellness and her love of art.

Topping up her Happy

These days, Natasha finds her mental health is helped by her art.

“Being able to make; the excitement of working on a new project, that always helps me to be in a better mood and helps tops up my happy,” says Natasha. 

Her happy is on full display when she describes her big plans for the future. She hopes her new project – Fun Art For Kids – will introduce more children to concrete art.

“I want to bring them art that’s local and affordable. It’s important that kids have access to something different; a fun, creative and imaginative way of expressing themselves and taking care of their wellbeing,” she says.

Just do you

Her smile becomes a full-blown laugh when she reflects on her journey so far. Moving countries, managing mental health challenges and building her business have taught her one important lesson – not to give in to fear. 

She has this advice for budding artists and businesswomen, “Oh my God. Do it. Just do it. It’s difficult, but everything in life has challenges. If you strongly believe in something just go for it. Don’t let fear stop you. Don’t let the naysayers stop you. Just do you.”

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