‘Nataniël is my creative canvas’

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“We’re like family,” says Lyn Kennedy, make-up artist and stylist for Nataniël – and they have been just that since 1988. “I’ve known him longer than I knew my dad,” she says, putting her career into perspective.

And along the way, the two artists have had huge fun. Especially in recent years, when Nataniël’s shaven head has become like a blank canvas on which she can express her creativity.

Lyn is the one who, at the very beginning of the marketing cam-paign, before Nataniël (pictured below) has even written the script, helps create the image he wants to project for the show.

It sounds quite scary.

She knows they’re shooting the pictures for the ad campaign, but not much more than that. “I usually just bring everything I have,” she says. And then it’s a matter of cut and paste.

With this latest show, fACTORy (opening at Emperors on Thursday), she knew he wanted his head sculpted with scales. “My immediate thoughts were reptilian, but he was thinking warrior.”

lyn and nataniel

In the end, she took a piece of feather leather, cut it into squares, sprayed them silver, and then moulded them to his head so that they looked like one of those period helmets.

“It’s way beyond make-up,” she says.

She studied costume design, and thought that was where she was headed, until she was called for an audition at the SABC.

“I only had my college portfolio,” she says. But that was enough. She started work the next day and, from then on, has developed a reputation as someone who can achieve the extraordinary.

Whether she builds a look around a colour or a country, it’s all about creating an illusion and thinking outside the box. Often, when going on a job, she will simply take a basket of stuff, and what emerges on the other side is just the product of her imagination.

It all started when she covered Nataniël’s head with painted flowers for a television shoot. “I simply used his head as a canvas,” she says.

“I don’t have any Elizabethan clothes, but when I was teaching and wanted to illustrate the look to students, I took cake doilies to shape the ruffled collars, and some brown wool to create the hair of that time.”

That’s what designers do. It is imagination that has to embroider the fantastical Nataniël tales.

From creating a fake Faberge egg when the artist says he doesn’t want any jewellery for a particular shot, but needs something elaborate to hold, or fashioning a beak from cardboard for a birdlime look, Lyn is game.

“I have to confess, simply doing make-up has become boring,” she explains. It is exploring more adven-turously that rocks her world.

“The thing about Nataniël,” says Lyn, “is that he’s a visual person. I respond to that. He illustrates with words and paints the most beautiful pictures. It’s amazing.”

From his TV shows, CD covers and magazine shoots to his annual Emperors extravaganza, Lyn is always ready with her colours and body paint. Like Nataniël, she is also all about reinvention.

And she knows her guy. When she talks about ideas with him, or sends him an e-mail, and he responds with silence, she knows that’s not where they’re going. But she also knows the sky’s the limit. From insulation tape to tissue paper, there’s not much she hasn’t used to tell a colourful story.

But then, she has an amazing canvas. And that’s the joy.

She’s the make-up artist who comes with solutions. Give her something that needs more crafting, and she’s your gal.

“I hate just executing some-one else’s ideas. You have to make it your own, not simply copy it,” she says.

Having worked with Nataniël for so many years, the magic is the trust that exists between them. “It’s all about knowledge and experience,” she says.

 

 

• WIN! WIN! WIN!

 

There are two double tickets and a DVD up for grabs for fACTORy on February 27.

To enter, SMS the word ‘PTANEWS’, followed by your name and the name of the show you would like to see, plus ‘yes’ or ‘no’ regarding whether you would like us to contact you for marketing purposes, to 43637

The line closes at midnight tonight. Winners will be notified by telephone.

SMSes are charged at R1.50.

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