Alumni Artist Showcase: Natalie Duchesne

Natalie Duchesne completed the Residential Fellowship in 2019 and now works for Scripture Union New Zealand. Here, Natalie offers a collection of drawings reflecting on community and its significance in our lives of faith.


When contemplating what community means to me and how to portray it visually, I decided to embrace the theme of friendship and drew upon some of my friends to collaborate on this piece. I gave them the task of speaking about community for three minutes and quickly heard the diversity of what it means to people. Different elements emerged that were quite polarising when paired: joy and confrontation, giving and receiving, the hardest place to practise love but the safest, highs alongside lows.

For me, the Road to Emmaus story (Luke 24:13-35) offers a glimpse into some of the roles of friendship and community. Throughout this narrative there are a few different elements at play. There’s shared lament, readiness to learn, room for challenge, and walking alongside others (literally and figuratively). All the while there’s a posture of hospitality, of openness—from being willing to invite a “stranger” into conversation, regardless of their headspace in that moment, to quite practically offering a home and resources to those who need it.

Venn has been a place of great community for me, especially during the Residential Fellowship. It has taught me the values of community, equipped me to strengthen and to feed into my communities, and been a place of deep and thoughtful community. Thus it features in this piece. Each of the six illustrations has multifaceted meanings to help capture these ideas. Below are some of the meanings, though there is permission to (and I hope that you do) attach your own meaning to them as well.

  1. Cape Horn Road – a place to wave to the Venn kids;  spontaneous invitations into different people’s homes; a prime skating spot with friends; the space needed to contemplate the things that community has spoken into or challenged
  2. Marsden cross (Rangihoua Heritage Park) – a celebration of different cultures; movement towards reconciliation of past wrongs; faith in action; pursuit of the Kingdom
  3. Christmas day – meeting around the table; the spectrum of emotion and experience being part of a family; experiencing hospitality; the role of celebration
  4. The Hay Barn – learning with others; expanding each other’s understanding of ourselves and the world; mentorship; intergenerational input; fellowship
  5. Holding hands – an unspoken depth of trust and intimacy; pursuing vulnerability’ the physical expression of meaning and connection
  6. Fellowship house veranda – the intention it takes to pursue community with people different to you; being confronted by your own patterns and behaviours not before identified (hopefully leading to growth); space for spontaneous conversations of depth and heart

(Images: Natalie Duchesne)