Designing Kalukanda House was an emotional, instinctive process inspired by history and our jaw dropping surroundings. We know that nature inspires humans emotionally and creatively - why is this?
In both London and Sri Lanka I am drawn to anybody and anything with a soulful quality and recently I discovered Evi Antonio through my friends at London based 'Runway Gallery' (details at end).
Evi is an exceptional artist who is heavily influenced by nature and her surroundings, creating stunning pieces with a spiritual tone. She has been shown at The Royal Academy and will be participating in the 'Explorers against Extinction' exhibition in London in November 2020 at the Oxo Wharf gallery, as conservation is a key part of her artistic messaging and the proceeds will go to the charity.
She is collaborating with interior designers, clothes designers and even furniture designers to create beautiful bespoke artworks that can be used with versatility in many forms.
Evi shares here the spiritual drivers and nature of her work, showcasing how creating anything from the heart is a surefire route to success.
"I have an obsessive eye for detail, I am a perfectionist with a deep passion for nature. I am driven to reveal the spectacular hidden intricacies in nature. My work is a celebration of the natural world which I convey in larger than life, bold and colourful circular paintings ~ butterflies, insects and lobsters being my main themes. One of these pieces, ‘Jono’s Lobster' gained me a place in the Royal academy Summer exhibition in 2012. The painting was created from my heart and it was this piece and experience which catapulted my professional art career"
Inspired by Nature
Growing up in North London and an urban landscape, I was fascinated by the images in early natural history books and spotters guides. I loved drawing too from an early age and I would choose natural objects to draw. It’s no surprise that it was my destiny was to study a degree in Natural history and scientific illustration.
My love for nature deepened when I visited a remote nature reserve and bird island In Pembrokeshire in 1991 called Skokholm. I felt an enlightenment on that island, a true belonging that I had never felt in London.
Having grown up in a city, I always felt out of place and uncomfortable, but seeing and being part of this island had a profound, spiritual effect on teenage me which forged the path my life was to take.
Creative inspiration through Travel
Travel is a massive influencer in my creative expression.
Cyprus is my Greek heritage of which I am extremely proud and plays a big part in my life. There is something quite special to go back to an island steeped in the history and tradition of your ancestry.
I am always welcomed and the warmth and hospitality which I carry as a huge importance in my values and life. It's an unspoken feeling of belonging.
The island had it’s troubles with the war and occupation in 1974, so there has also been a sadness and injustice that was carried through the Cypriot community. As far as being reflected in my work, I did some research a few years ago when we visited last and have a big body of reference which I would love to explore in the future. I think Mediterranean light and colours found in architecture and flora are reflected in the vivid colours of my works.
Closer to home in Wales, Pembrokeshire always restores and inspires, igniting a deeper consciousness and calmness. Visiting clears my headspace, it gives me time to breath and clarity to focus on my work when I return.
Nature and Art as a language
I am a chameleon and my work is influenced by my surroundings and expresses my emotions of the time.
When I spent many years visiting Pembrokeshire my work reflected the beauty and awe that I was experiencing. I wanted to shout about the beauty and did so through oversized paintings of lobsters and other sea creatures, showing intricate details and their diverse forms.
My work evolves organically and I’m most comfortable in nature. I spent alot of time commuting around central London after years in the countryside and coast and the new urban environment both challenged and excited me sparking a lightbulb moment.
I wanted to fuse the nature I love with the new found beauty of urban decay and abstraction I was immersed in. The language on the streets, colours, textures and play of time fascinated me and I began to see similarities in natural forms, mainly butterflies and insects. There is a constant source of ever-changing inspiration and subject matter - my challenge is will I ever have time to paint all I want to?
I love that you describe my work as soulful. This is an ultimate compliment for me as an artist, that my essence and emotion is seen and captured by a viewer.
The boldness comes from my love of colour and also nature’s palette. The diversity of colour, form and symmetry found within the natural world fascinates me and I love being able to convey that in my paintings.
My work communicates my passion for nature and the fragility of it. I think about mortality and I often work from specimens which have been ethically sourced but I still struggle with that. I feel my art is a vehicle to command respect for these beautiful creatures by looking deeper and closer to appreciate them.
A personal definition of spirituality
To me spirituality is an always evolving and growing consciousness. As I get older, I am discovering and understanding more about my personal spirituality and I am also able to reflect on moments in my life where you could not find an explanation for something that had happened, yet feel that a lesson has been learnt or a communication has been made.
I have always had an intuition and connection for certain people and places that didn’t feel like a coincidence. I feel blessed that I am open and have an awareness.
Nature is a miracle as are we and we are part of it and the universe. There is a lot we don’t fully understand, but I have a deep respect for the world we live in, all it’s natural creations. There are places I visit that make me feel complete and restored, experiencing a deep connection to them and a different consciousness.
Being by the sea on a windy coastal walk, feeling the history of time evokes a feeling of being an essential part of something big . I have been exploring meditation these past few years and it's something I want to learn more about as I am beginning to realise the lack of it has had an impact on me and my life.
Spirituality in butterflies
My father passed away in 2013 and after that most of my work until 2017 explored life and death. There was a lot of beauty with a darkness, which I can now see. Then butterflies naturally evolved into my work these last few years and I realised there is a lot of symbolism with butterflies around transformation, metamorphosis and rebirth.
I felt tuned into an emotional and spiritual elevation and was comforted by the light and hope I experienced.
Butterflies are deep and powerful representations of life. Many cultures associate the butterfly with our souls. The Christian religion sees the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection and elsewhere people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life.
My instinct was to paint them and with our uncertain and troubled world, I feel they are a symbol of hope.
I create bespoke artworks by combining digital technology with traditional painting. I trained as a Natural History watercolour artist and after a career break to raise my two children, I returned to a new studio and era with digital tools. I always hand finish each of my prints with paint gauzes and varnish and it gives me personal satisfaction to add further depth to my art with unique qualities. I always use the highest quality fine art paper or canvas to print on and bespoke, high quality framing is an integral part of my art.
I also create bespoke spaces for clients and I have worked on specific commissions for homes based on work I display through galleries.
I have been involved in two very exciting collaborations which evolved organically out of lockdown. The owner of Anatomy boutique approached me having seen some of my silk bomber designs, and asked me to design a silk bomber jacket for her niche online boutique, which sells anatomy related products. This jacket is available through www.anatomyboutique.com
I am collaborating with a friend and founder of Stedsans, who lovingly restores original Scandinavean sofas and armchairs. I love her ethos of creating something to treasure www.stedsans.co.uk
Photo credits : Evi Antonio and Anatomy Boutique