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Interview with Sabatina Leccia: Poetic Plastic and the Beauty of Stains

Gerne möchte ich euch, auf Englisch, Sabatina Leccia vorstellen, eine junge Künstlerin, die mir vor vielen Jahren in Paris bei Grands Voisins über den Weg lief und deren Blick auf die Welt mich direkt verzauberte. Ein bißchen wie Amélie Poulain aus der Fabelhaften Welt der Amelie sieht sie überall Poesie und Schönheit und hat dabei gleichzeitig auch die öko-sozialen Herausforderungen auf dem Schirm, die uns auf unserem Planeten begegnen.
Geniesst das Interview! Eure Santa

Hello Sabatina! Thank you a lot for taking the time for an interview with us! We are very excited to know more about you and your work! Could you please tell us a little bit on your background and what inspired you to do your very special kind of embroidery?

I studied History & Archeology at la Sorbonne in Paris, then I studied in Central Saint Martins School in MA Textile Future in London. These two fields, one focus on the past (History & Archeology) and the second focus on the future (Ma Textile Future) allowed me to work with an ancestral technique such as embroidery – yet in a contemporay way.

I started to work with embroidery when I was a child with my two grandmothers but in a very traditionnal way. As a teenager I stopped and returned to embroidery when I was 24 years old. I began to develop an embroidery technique that was very different from my grandmothers‘ style. Doing hand embroidery allows me to slow down in my daily life and give time to think and meditate.

I like the idea of embroidery as a means to slow down. Could you elaborate a bit more on this?

From my point of view embroidery is not just a beautiful embellishment, it means much more than that. Doing hand embroidery in our modern world for me is as well philosophical, even a political statement …

I use embroidery as a way to communicate how it’s important to slow down our life and to change the way we consume. I try to bring a little bit of poetry into our daily life. For instance during an art residency in Estonia I embroidered plastic bags to make them precious. For me this is the meeting between two worlds, the world of over-consumption (plastic bag) and the world of poetry and delicate time (embroidery). Here I used embroidery to transfrom „trash“ into an exquisie piece of art.

Wow, your artistic work is very poetic and diverse. Could you please tell us about your other projects?

I also work with stains. The first time I got inspired when my ink accidentally fall down on my fabric, and instead of throwing it away I found it powerful and poetic to repair the stain and start to make embroidery on it in order to make it beautiful and precious. I like to show how sometimes mistakes can become beautiful if we start to «repair » it with poetry and delicacy.

At the same time, I intend to translate these values of « taking the time », « taking the time to make beautiful things » by doing workshops with children. Fors instance, in 2016 I went to French Normandie with the association La Source to do a workshop with embroidery and painting with children who are in difficulty. I invited them to work with embroidery and taking the time to do slowly make things beautiful. I use art to give them back self confidence.

I really love the idea of turning stains into something beautiful. Can people come to you with stained clothing and you give them your poetic twist?

I am developping the idea of repairing stained clothes and offer my artistic skills to transform the stain in something exquisite by using my embroidery style. For instance if someone by mistake stained a beautiful white dress with red wine I could work on the stain with stitches and transfrom it into something unique and precious. I could offer beautiful repair. I am very flexible and depending of the budget I adapt my work. I could work on various medium such as linen, silk, cotton, wool or even thin leather.

The art of slowing down: When we met I really loved the way you talked about slowing down and slowness that comes to you when you are doing your embroidery. Would you tell us a bit more about this?

In a society where everything is produced and consumed very quickly I see my hand embroidery art work as a political statement. I want to participate the least possible in this trend of going too fast and forget to give a sense to our lives. That’s why I want to carry on to develop my hand embroidery work. When I am doing it, as the process is very slow and delicate, I am taking care of what I’m doing. I want that people see it as a poetry or a message that invites you to develop your own imagination and think differently of our world. Do less but do it with more preciousness and thought, do things deeply. When I was in my art residency in Estonia I discovered a society where hand work is very important and I found people more quiet and less agitated than in Paris for instance. Nowadays we forget hand work. It should be more important, it allows people to be more connected and conscious of what they are doing. Hand work is time of slowness and the reflection.

Since you and me have both London and Paris in common I would love to ask you for your impressions on the cultural and artistic differences and freedoms of these two countries ?

When I studied in London I was impressed by the freedom used in the teaching. In my Ma, Textile Future, we were invited to push the boundaries of textile. We worked with scientifics on very specific topics such as synthetic biology and we had to make a reflection about it. We also looked deeply into environmental issues. Indeed, the textile industry is one the the most polluting of the world,thus we were invited to rethink the way of producing textile in a more ethical and human way. This teaching invited me to look and study all the aspects of the society and start to work and think differently. Paris and France are for me, in my field, a little bit too narrow and too much focussed on textile in his traditionnal way. For instance when I studied fashion in Paris in 2006, nobody spoke how fashion was destroying nature and so many human lives, this was completly hidden. On some aspects such as creativity or ecology I found London much more advanced than Paris but on another hand, in term of quality of life I found Paris much more affordable than in London, that’s why I moved back in Paris when I graduated in 2012.

I found you while strolling through Les Grands Voisins. Could you please tell us what Grands Voisins is about? In which way did being part of this huge project changed your outlook on life and art?

In 2016 and 2017, I set up my studio at Grands Voisins. This is an experimental and ephemeral project led by three associations, Yes We Camp, Plateau Urbain and Aurore. The aim of this project is to transform an abandoned place such as Hopital Saint Vincent de Paul in Paris into a place of exchange between humans, art and nature. For example, the site is welcoming homeless people, migrants, artists, designers and as well a lot of nature such as bees, chickens, tomatoes ect… As an artist, I had the possibility to rent for little money a workplace over there. To be part of this project was a wonderful opportunity and  changed my outlook on life and art. To be at Grands Voisins was really enriching because everyday I was constantly in contact with people from others backgrounds, knowledges or cultures. It’s not a space with only artists, it is much more than that. Everyday I was in contact with people who are specialized in urban agriculture that allowed me to learn how to do a compost, with migrants…To be there led me to participate to a human project called « La Fabrique Nomade » that connects french designers to refugee craftmen in order to create together a collection of products depending on their skill in order to help them to show their skills and maybe find a job in France. With Ablaye, a Senegalese man also specialised in embroidery, we together created a collection of cushions called Asamaan. I know that this collaboration help him to find job as embroiderer in France.

While Les Grands Voisins is like a little Microcosm, do you think that these sharing and integrative elements that are applied here could also work on a bigger scale?

I mostly think that the big ideas of Grands Voisins which are create connections between differents people and nature and work for the common good could be applied on a bigger scale also. But our government/our sociaty have to change radically to make it possible. We have to see others such as refugees as human people who deserve a decent life as everybody, and as well look at them as a powerful way to discover an other culture and exchange with it instead of being afraid. At the same time, we have to change our relation with nature and see how it is important for our balance. For instance, according to the magazine Mashable, The Snake River Correctional Institue in Oregon starts to show films about nature and space to 48 prisonners and results in 26% less acts of violence compared to the other prisonners. We have to creat bridges instead of creating walls….

To conclude, I like to work with threads because as for me it’s symbolizing the idea of creating connexions and give the place to the repair.

Thanks a lot for your time, Sabatina! Could you please tell us where we can find out more about you and your work.

You can find more about my work on my website : www.sabatinaleccia.com

Facebook : sabatina leccia studio

Instagram: sabatina leccia

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