Sophie Le Lievre
Sophie Le Lievre has returned to the island of Guernsey after achieving a First class Technical Arts BA at WCA in 2012 and over a decade spent sculpting sets for numerous Oscar Nominated films and producing commissioned work for private clients in London.
The body of work exhibited in her recent exhibition ’Portal’ explores the meditative, repetitive act of making mandalas and the therapeutic possibilities in combining art, religion and spirituality. Designed during the pandemic while pregnant with her first child and coming to terms with the loss of her father, the mandalas emerged as Sophie simultaneously contemplated life and death as a part of her daily practice.
The sculptures became a therapeutic outlet and represent seeking the transcendent - whether pleasure, paradise or enlightenment in challenging times. Sophie’s use of materials continues her obsession with texture and detail, nodding to the original, historical materials but with an underlying theme of decay. With this collection, she looked to integrate ancient and modern styles, exploring the revival of the past in new forms. The works set to exemplify each architectural movement- Greek, gothic, Celtic, Mahometan, and rococo.
'Mahometan Potal' (edition 2 of 3), Terracotta jesmonite, gold leaf, 51.5 x 51.5 cm, by Sohie Le Lievre
What are your biggest influences?
S: I’m influenced by nature, texture and psychoanalysis.
Coming from an island I’m sympathetic to the changing elements and particularly aware of erosion and decay. I love paying attention to miniature worlds, mimicking these in my studio or taking life-casts and working small.
I also find the intersection between art and psychotherapy fascinating. Each design has its own religious and spiritual symbolism. The religious rituals that accompany these mandalas are essential outlets for coping, healing and letting go.
This series is more structured than my textural, abstract works. My interest in embellishment comes from my experience with modelling and plasterwork and I love the precision and delicacy of ornament and its craft.
Which artists do you admire most?
S: I am consistently inspired by artists whose work explores psychoanalysis, pleasure and trauma. The list is endless but includes Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon, Tracy Emin and Grayson Perry. I can spend hours immersed in their personal histories and expressive, emotional work, and seeing how their art engenders their technical, intellectual, emotional and physical release is incredibly moving. This is particularly true of Emin and Perry, given their places in their wider communities and how they listen and give back.
What are you thinking about when you start making each piece? Do you work in series?
S: I work in series because once I have realised a concept there is a sense of resolution and the work comes full circle. Also my art is intrinsically connected to the period in my life when it was created, and the main themes of life and death.
With this body of work I had very clear ideas on each style and motif within the mandalas. There was a language of ornament to follow, but within that I was free to play with shapes and space to interpret and translate my concepts.
This process allowed my subconscious to wander and meditate while I was grieving.
Sometimes I needed to stop and cry, other times I didn’t think of anything at all and my mind could rest and heal.
There is beauty in decay, as with aging and experience. It’s ok that you’re not always ok. It’s ok to let things go, to focus on what’s important, or real, or your mental health.
Traumatic experience can alter and inform our perception, understanding and outlook of the world, and I believe art nurtures that understanding as well as providing critical creative expression.