Artist Spotlight - Lei Saint James
Welcome back to The Sunday Mag! This month we‘re so excited to be interviewing Lei Saint James for our artist spotlight. We discovered her through Instagram and were instantly attracted to her dreamy colours, fluid shapes and vibrant expression of the world through her art.
We know you’ll love her just as much as we do!
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Leila Saint James and I am a painter, weaver and actress based in Berlin. I was born in Luxembourg but raised on very many travels around the world. Traveling is literally part of my DNA, since my parents were an air hostess and pilot respectively, which probably explains why I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last decade - from London to New York, from Paris to Berlin. My dream is to live in California one day and have a studio with large bay windows overlooking lush and tropical greenery.
Being an artist, do you think this period of quarantine has been a help or hindrance to your work? If so, how?
It has been the most welcoming and inspiring period for me. As I’m an actress too, I travel around for jobs quite often, so it’s been a very welcome change to be home for months on end and focus on my art. It is unheard of to be koi undisturbed in this day and age and this is exactly what happened. My one and only focus
was my art as there was literally no where else to go. I sometimes secretly wish it had lasted a little bit longer... ;)
It’s amazing to see you work with two mediums - paint and weaving. Do you have a favourite?
I love oscilating between both mediums as they require different things from me. At the same time, they are quite similar in terms of composition and colour - I look at some of my weaving work as an extension of my more abstract work on canvas.
What started your love for these two forms of art?
I started painting at a really young age, at around 12 I think. I’ve always been a very visual person, probably also because of my father who’s extremely passionate about photography. At around 12 though, a very dear friend of mine, started taking drawing lessons at a gallery in Luxembourg and asked me to join. The rest is history I guess.
My love for weaving stems out of the need to be creative whilst on the road as an actress - I was looking for something to do with my hands and for something I could easily carry around with me. It started out as a hobby and quickly developped into a craft I wouldn’t want to miss anymore.
Now I need a new hobby ;)
Is there an over-arching theme to your work that you try to convey or is every piece a unique portrayal of different subjects/inspirations?
I think an over-arching element of my work is defintiely my love for color and humour. Outside of that, I like to stay free and explore whatever my mind comes up with, whether it be a child-like exploration of a theme or a primitive abstraction of a thought that might have crossed my mind in the middle of the night.
We noticed a lot reoccurring colours in your work. We love the pinks and organges! Is there a particular reason for this and how do those colours speak to you artistically?
Pink is my favorite color and will most certainly prevail in my work - it’s such a complex color, defined in many different and often contradicting ways. It definitely is a controversial color - you either love it or hate it.
The colours I work with are almost always a visual interpretation of what’s on my mind whilst working on a project. I certainly do love bright and vibrant colors in a way to counter-act the sometimes somber world we live in.
Do you have any new projects coming up that you can tell us a little bit about?
I’m literally wrapping up a theatre project ‘Antigone Neuropa’ with the artist Filip Markiewicz at Staatstheater Cottbus in Germany and cannot wait to get back to my studio practice once I’m back. I’m filled to the brim with new ideas and am very excited to see it all unfold in front of me.
Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created?
A painting of a vase you can’t afford’ as it reflects all the different elements that define my work.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Berlin?
The inspiring creatives in my life, the nature and anonymity the city offers.
Finally - 3 desert island items!
Sunscreen, paint and coffee
Thanks so much to Lei Saint James for the interview! What a star!