Artist Santa Leimane was born in Latvia but spent time studying art in Enniskillen before moving to Belfast, where she is currently living and working. Specialising in painting, many of Santa's dramatic large-scale artworks are inspired by the human form and its many complex elements. Here she talks to The Impartial Reporter about her artistic style, what inspires her work and how she uses painting as a method of communication and storytelling.

JC: What is your artistic background?

SL: During my early years I attended Art School besides regular secondary and high school, three times a week for about six years. That was most likely the root for continuing on studying art and looking for routes forward. Since then I’ve had a long journey studying in various schools including South West College in Enniskillen, South Bank University in London, Art Academy of Latvia and Ulster University in Belfast, where I graduated back in 2017.

JC: What inspires your art?

SL: I use figure/human form, flesh and anatomy as a central object for the rest of the ‘story’ to be wrapped around.

JC: How would you describe your artistic style?

SL: My style of work is crossing lines of surreal, figurative and abstract and is most often led into atmospheric and earthy palettes. The tone of my work has a sense of solitude, search of an identity and belonging. The human body is as a complex series of intentional states, perceptions, mental representations, beliefs and attitudes in which the main object is the artist’s own sense of the body and the artist’s emotional attitude towards it. Therefore, I am using painting as a technique of communication and storytelling.

JC: What different artistic mediums do you use and which is your favourite?

SL: I have experimented with many materials, both traditional and non-traditional to painting, however, I favour a couple of layers of oil paint on a wood surface.

JC: Who/what are your greatest influences?

SL: The whole genre of Surrealism. The works of Remedios Varo, Egon Schiele and many more as well as Andrei Tarkovsky’s cinematography.

JC: What has been your most ambitious piece to date?

SL: My most ambitious to date has been a private commission, interior project of a vintage mural painting. It was my largest work up to date. It took a few months to plan, prepare and develop. The work onsite took a whole week to complete. It was exciting and I would definitely do more projects like this one.

JC: What are you currently working on?

SL: Currently I am practicing watercolour painting, which is very different for me. It is definitely harder than it looks, taking a lot of precision and patience! I’ve been re-developing smaller floral designs that I have previously introduced in large scale works, paintings.

JC: Do you exhibit your work anywhere?

SL: I have exhibited my work quite a lot in group shows and juried shows. Some of the highlights for me have been having a Solo Show back in 2017, the Graduate Show at Ulster University and Young Artist of the Year award show earlier this year.

Currently some of my work is available to view at ArtisAnn Gallery in Belfast and Unique Art Shop based at the University of Ulster.

JC: Any new artistic ventures planned for 2019?

SL: At the minute I’m in the early planning stages of a collaboration show for early next year. In the meantime I’m focused on developing some new designs and getting a new body of work on the go.