Stasha’s stars are souls of lost loves
“Is this the right ribbon for this, do you think?” asks Stasha Lewis at the end of our interview. She fiddles with a classic typewriter sitting on the coffee table of her living room, noting that, as with many of the ornate treasures in her house, she first stumbled across it at a car boot sale.
Does she say this with a hint of subversive relish? Perhaps, but you couldn’t blame the 41-year-old. As the daughter of South African businesswoman Tina Green – and by association the step-daughter of billionaire Topshop owner Sir Philip Green – Lewis is no stranger to questions about her family’s fortune, and how that impacts the lifestyle she has built around her gorgeous, substantial house in St John’s Wood.
From the outside, the property is a picture perfect blend of ivy crawling over luxurious villa, but inside is where Lewis’ creative eye comes to the fore. Having made a career as both an artist and a cookery aficionado (she released her book, How To Feed A Man in 2010) she has filled every corner of her cosy abode with antique drums, throws and pretty cushions, alongside more artful oddities like the flock of painted sheep statues that greet you in the entrance hall.
“I’ve always been like that,” she says of her artistic grounding. “I used to pull everything out of the dolls house and pull all the little tablecloths off and remake all the furniture and things like that.
“I wasn’t so interested in clothes; I was much more interested in something that I got to use my hands with. If I can use my hands, I’m happy and it still stands today, they’re my most precious commodity.”
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In her last exhibition, 2012’s Colour, this commodity was used to the full, creating a tactile arrangement of acrylic splodges that still adorn much of her furniture today. Her new project, And The Stars Shine Down… , however, marks a departure; using brushes to depict lonely shots of trees and houses dwarfed by a starry night sky.
Painted after a period of loss that saw the deaths of several friends and her father, Jazz drummer Bobby Palos, in 2011, the series adorns both canvas and fabric – one image is painted onto a vintage chair, called The Unseatable Sofa – and is showing at the Saatchi gallery this December.
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“What I’ve learnt from this is that I may have lost, but I will not lose,” Lewis says, “because the people become the souls that we‘ve lost in the stars above, so they’re always there, watching over us and it’s a comfort in that sense.”
Married to property businessman Tony Lewis and mother to a teenage son, daughter and step-son, the artist insists people’s assumptions that she was born into wealth are misplaced and that her mother instilled a strong work ethic into her from an early age. “My mother was like the driving force and my father taught me to stop and smell the roses, he was that kind of guy,” she explains.
While the loss of her father to cancer hit her close-knit family hard however, she believes she did find a beauty in his last days, one that she hopes has manifested itself in her latest project.
“You know when you’re loved right at the end as you know who’s sitting round your bed. It was quite beautiful and I wanted to keep that because, as much there is horror in it all, you can find a beauty in death; it’s there, it’s just not always apparent. And I suppose I couldn’t bear to think that that’s it, forever.
“As my son had said to me, we are made by the stars and by my logic, I thought, ‘Well that’s where we go back then.’ I like that idea.”
And The Stars Shine Down… is at the Saatchi Gallery on Tuesday 2 December before moving to Imitate Modern from Dec 4-7. Visit imitatemodern.com