Thousands of lines, thousands of strokes and thousands of thoughts went into Natalie Britten's Parkin Drawing Prize entry.

The result was The Fountain of Life and Death being named as a finalist in the prestigious competition sponsored by arts patron and philanthropist Chris Parkin.

With the concept developed two years ago and put on to paper over the last year, it was in lockdown that the drawing came to life for the Paraparaumu artist.

Natalie's style is detailed and intricate, created with fine Copic Multiliners on white paper along with hints of coloured pencil and metallic pen to add depth, with every inch covered in drawings representing a collage of Natalie's life experiences in impressionist style.


Natalie works 30 hours a week in the food safety industry and with only limited time to draw and such a finely detailed style, declaring a work finished is a feat in itself for her.

Natalie Britten with her drawing The Fountain of Life and Death which was named as a finalist in the Parkin Drawing Prize.
Natalie Britten with her drawing The Fountain of Life and Death which was named as a finalist in the Parkin Drawing Prize.

"Some of the work I do takes months or years to finish depending on how intricate and big the piece is," Natalie said.

"Even the smaller works can take weeks or months - time and patience really is a virtue."

Entering for the Parkin Drawing Prize for the first time was made possible because of the time Natalie could spend on it during lockdown.

"I spent well over 300 hours on it, although my partner reckons it was close to 1000 hours.

"Deciding to enter the Parkin Drawing Prize and being accepted is such an honour and big deal for me, I work on my artwork tirelessly, so being accepted is recognition of all the hard work I put into this piece.

"The last few months before the deadline were particularly full-on.

"I was really stoked to be named as a finalist."


With no formal artistic training, Natalie once inspired to be a comedian, pursuing a career in the comedy world while living in Melbourne, but gave it up to go back to drawing and illustration as her forms of artistic expression.

"I had to completely restart and go back to square one to relearn how to draw and illustrate."

From cartoons, to black and white line-art drawings of nature scenes, men with beards and dogs in the wind, or a one-metre panoramic drawing of the Wellington Botanic Gardens, Natalie's work has become increasingly detailed.

"The Fountain is an intimate portrait of life and death inspired by experiences, good and bad, all of which have ultimately strengthened my foundations as a person.

"All the faces and people hidden in the fountain's structure represent various ideas ... the objects that the lady in the centre is holding are structures of the universe, and challenges that we all have to face.

"The flowers and water flowing from her hair represent life and the chaotic, broken and interwoven fountain represents death.


"The lady in the middle represents the inner strength that everyone has access to."

The Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition season runs until August 30 at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts Academy Galleries, Queens Wharf, Wellington.