5 Minutes with Saria Sakka

AucArt’s guest curator of the month, Saria Sakka, talks to us about home, travels, what art means to her, and the inspiration behind her latest sale 'Beirut ma Betmout'.

Where are you from?

I am Syrian-Lebanese, born and raised in London, with a long stint in the US and a year in Hong Kong. I feel more Lebanese than anything else, although there is no greater feeling than landing into London.

Describe your upbringing.

I have 2 brothers, so there was never a dull moment growing up. My parents are quite cool, although in different ways. Growing up, my mum always encouraged me to express myself creatively. My grandmother was also a big influence, she loves a good time and has the most unique, imaginative eye. 

Tell us one thing few people know about you?

If I could leave the city and move to the mountains, I would do so in a second! I’m a country girl at heart. 

If you didn’t work in the arts what job do you think you’d have?

In another life, I would be a set designer. I am visually inclined, and love seeing things come together. I also love telling stories, and working with my hands – so the idea of building a stage and setting a scene with an eclectic variety of objects, props and tools found at flea markets or on different travels and adventures really appeals to me. I would build the craziest sets – colourful, pink, textured, loud and mismatched… but hopefully, it would work. That, or a travel writer.

What does art mean to you?

Art means a lot to me. It’s as personal as it is social. If I need a reset, I will go to a museum with a great permanent collection… early in the morning, and on my own. If I need to meditate, I will draw, write, paint, bead or cook. 

Where is your favourite place you have traveled to and what made the experience so special?

New Mexico. My best friend and I drove across North America a few years ago. We rented an SUV in Charleston, SC and drove it all the way to Los Angeles, CA. That trip was magic. We planned very little, and found being on the road incredibly liberating and exhilarating. We met some real characters along the way, and experienced some mind blowing landscapes. 

Something you cannot work without?

My earphones! I need my music – to either pump me up, calm me down, or inspire me. 

A book that changed your life?

Shukti Gawain’s ‘Creative Visualization’. I read it after breaking my foot on the first day of a friends holiday years ago. It’s not my favourite book, but it influenced me a lot. It was the first time I recognized the role one’s thoughts and mindset play in shaping reality. 

Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

My grandmother. She has the most incredible eye, and has so much fun dressing up. She lived in Tokyo for 35 years, and now lives in Paris. You can feel both cities in her affect, in the way she mixes and matches things. She’s as Kawaii as she is elegant. Otherwise, traveling… Mexico City, Los Angeles, Paris, Beirut and Tokyo have all inspired me a lot. 

What are you most proud of?

My relationships. I’m grateful to have such inspiring, grounding and supportive close friends, mentors and family. 

What kind of artwork do you like to be surrounded by?

Post-COVID, I’ve been very drawn to ceramics and textiles. I want to look at something I can also touch. Equally important to me as the artwork on the walls are the chairs, sofas, lamps, vases in the room. 

If you could change one thing about the world we live in what would it be? 

I would hope for more open minded and compassionate attitudes towards sexuality, gender and womanhood.

What’s important to you?

Freedom! To have the space to express myself however I want or need to. 

What’s your most cherished possession?

Either my teddy Gingery – we’ve been through it all together, or a painting my dad made in the early 90s that hangs in my bedroom. The colours are quite intense – a saturated red, lots of different shades of purple and green. The forms are outlined in thick black. It’s of a woman, with jet black hair tied in a top bun, standing against an open window. Floating above her head is a weird box, and in that weird box hangs a Matisse-esque leaf.

The most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?

Cross that bridge when you get there, and take everything as it comes. The universe always has a plan.

Something we take for granted?

This past year has highlighted two of the things I took for granted… travel and human connection. 

What future projects are you hoping to explore?

I am super excited to be working on a project with two friends, Ayla and Najwa. We seek to connect creatives from the Levant with accessible, free-lance opportunities in Europe and the US. More on that soon… 🙂 

What’s the inspiration behind your sale? Is there an underlying narrative?

Beirut! It is one of the most fun, inspiring, sensory cities. With this sale, I wanted to shine on a light on some of the brilliant characters that call Beirut home. x

What draws you to an artist?

Their sense of possibility.