‘Making art is about escaping into self made worlds and inviting people in’

Artist Feline Minne. Picture: Nadira Amrani

Artist Feline Minne. Picture: Nadira Amrani - Credit: Archant

Belgian-born painter Feline Menne says her work is driven by the desire to “create an alternative personal universe.”

Feline Minne compares being an artist to playing God.

The Belgian-born painter says her work is driven by the desire to “create an alternative personal universe.”

“For me art is about leaving reality and creating a different world. Making art is very much an escape into self made worlds where I invite people to come in. It’s important they are able to hear their own thoughts when they look at my work. I don’t try to preach, just create an image they can look at and think.”

Minne’s drive to reinvent reality included changing her name from Eveline Gevaert to the “more aesthetic, more international, easy to Google” alternative.

It followed a difficult upbringing during which her father spent time in prison and model mother travelled the world.

“I had a traumatic childhood,” says the 29-year-old.

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“I was extremely tall and raised by my grandparents who were hippies. I was vegetarian living in a small town in rural Flanders and I was badly bullied at school.”

Like many introverted children she sought solace in her imagination.

“As a child I was always drawing and always knew I was good at it. Adults always praise children so when a child hears an adult say they’re good they don’t really believe it, but when the other children say ‘yes you are good at drawing’ and even the bullies said can you make a drawing for me?” It gave me the sense that it was ok that I was weird, there was something good about me and I deserved a place in the world.”

Minne, who lives in Hampstead and teaches at the Montessori School in Lyndhurst Gardens, changed her name after becoming estranged from my father.

“I chose Feline because it was the name of Bambi’s girlfriend and Minne because it means memory in Norwegian and love in old Dutch”

At the age of 14 she decided to become an artist and studied animation and film making before taking an MA in painting at the Royal College of Art.

“I locked myself in my bedroom drawing. My mum thought I was depressed but I was happy creating imaginary things. It’s my passion and obsession. When I went to art school I felt I belonged there.”

With it’s artistic history she also feels “more at home in Hampstead than anywhere else”

“It’s so inspiring I feel I belong and very lucky to live here. At the Montessori School I teach poetry and writing there’s so much creativity the children are so fascinating. It’s the kind of school I wish I had gone to.”

Her debut solo show My San Francisco is inspired by the American city she fell in love with; 1950s animation film backgrounds; and the precarious nature of generation rent.

“I have dreamed of moving to San Francisco and these dreamlike paintings of interiors express faith and hope that one day I will be able to own my own little safe house. I didn’t have a safe home so it’s a longing for me but it’s also part of my generation that we are very insecure because of house prices and fear we will never have a safe home.”

My San Franciso is at 5th Base Gallery in Heneage Street Spitalfields January 14-15.