Escaping through art: once upon a time in lockdown

June 4, 2020

Artwork by Leïla, collages created in photoshop by Sadie Souter

Leïla Ardant-Carpentier gathers new inspirations through music, nature and fairy tales

This year I started a two-year Visual Art and Design course at the Brit School, which has been an eye opening and stimulating experience. I’ve been lucky to have access to the most amazing resources and unique opportunities, and to gain inspiration from great teachers and professional artists.

On my course, we have learnt so many new skills including printing, pattern making, film and photography and there is so much more to come. So, when this was cut short, it was a shock. I struggled at first to get used to working from home and to cope with the uncertainty that this coronavirus crisis brings.

Staying at home, under the lockdown restrictions, for over two months has been incredibly challenging, but I have started to see my local surroundings in a completely different light.

Here is a compilation of some of my psychedelic patterns:

The only thing that has kept me sane has been going for walks and listening to music to spark my imagination. The song I’ve been listening to on repeat recently is ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ by the Beatles.

The dreamy, psychedelic melody with Lennon’s painful lyrics makes for a touching song. What seems to be a sweet childhood memory has darker undertones, as it refers to Lennon’s experiences playing in the playground of an orphanage, known to be dangerous.

When George Martin, the Beatles’ producer first heard the track, he thought it conjured up a “hazy, impressionistic dreamworld”, exactly what I hope to achieve with my artwork.

I found myself seeing my local parks in a way I never have before, finding new paths and hidden spots. What I once thought of as a mundane field has become a fairy tale wonderland, helped by the beautiful sunshine.

Leïla’s mood board, photography inspired by nature

I wanted to capture the movement of the trees in a static image, and take photos of the winding paths that I discovered. A dead tree I noticed reminded me of a huge spider’s corpse; perhaps the remnant of an ancient monster.

Ever since I was little, I had a fascination with magical lands; anywhere I could disappear to for a few hours, for some peace and calm. Now my art gives me a world to escape into, especially necessary in these tough times.

I always loved the fairy story of Hansel and Gretel, in particular, due to its focus on appearances clashing with reality. Beneath the surface of a sweet gingerbread house and a kind old woman lies a sinister horror story.

As I walk through quiet winding lanes, the flowing trees and dead branches around me begin to shift into witches’ hands and spiders’ legs. I could imagine being Gretel, stumbling through the enchanted woods, unaware of her impending doom.

Flowing trees abstraction, drawn with markers by Leïla

Another of my inspirations is the 60s era, as I love the vibrant and psychedelic artwork. I decided to incorporate this into my own work, drawing on Flower Power and Pop Art movements.

This process resulted in the creation of my very own gingerbread house that I drew with alcohol-based markers. The house is a patchwork of surreal, and bright rainbow coloured patterns that create something very much detached from reality, conjuring up the feeling of childhood nostalgia, through bold strokes.

My aim was to create something that would encapsulate my own struggles with lockdown, while reflecting the tale of Hansel and Gretel. I tried to show how things that seem sweet at first glance could have a dark underside.

My artwork was particularly inspired by the artists Sarah Graham and Lucy Sparrow. Sarah Graham is known for creating realistic oil paintings of random British sweets on a huge scale. Lucy Sparrow creates felt replications of everyday supermarket products, which I think are incredibly creative and unique.

Gingerbread House, by Leïla

I love looking at other artists’ works to inspire my creations because, as I can’t bounce off other students and teachers at the moment, it gives me a new perspective to work from.

In quarantine, I recommend that you too explore your creative side, even if you wouldn’t normally. Listen to a new song or become inspired by an era or an artist.

Just create, even if it doesn’t turn out how you may have hoped, because you might surprise yourself. You won’t ever know unless you try, and now is the perfect time to start your happy ever after!

Check out my art instagram @theartofaline

With editorial support from Sadie Souter

Leïla is studying an art and design foundation course at the Brit School. She enjoys going to art exhibitions with her friends. Leila loves discovering new music, which often inspires her art work.

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