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I’d forgotten that big part of my childhood – the colouring. Absorbed in colour. I don’t remember anyone trying to get me to do that. I would then draw circles and colour in segments, not so dissimilar to what I have been doing now. That was a spontaneous remembering. We don’t consciously live our lives remembering, do we? I wouldn’t thread it through like that. You just keep living.

Sophie Levy Burton MONK Founder and Editor
Raga with Yellow III mixed media on paper

I’m an outsider in art. By which I mean, I haven’t been trained. I haven’t been to art school for a degree. I’m 

Cambridge and Oxford educated and I have another degree in creative writing. All that I left behind when I took up painting. I believe the brush marks I make are as basic as those we have laid down ever since the human spirit became entranced by pigment. It is satisfying visually – whatever that means – and has been for thousands of years if you go back to cave and rock art. I’m talking spirals, circles, dots, elliptical marks. Where do they come from?

I used visual process to work out my black moods. As my friend Cornelius suffered through his cancer, in those three weeks he spent dying in a flat in Hammersmith, I painted him going towards the light. He got further and further away and as he did so I kept painting portals, tunnels, light, energy. I’m not sure I was even aware of it, truly.

Then Cornelius died, and I kept painting. I painted a series of portals – like yonis, like squares – something so satisfying about that shape – again, mystically speaking, perhaps they are meditative shapes, like the mandala. By the end of the year I was playing with collage. With my work you need to ask why does it please you, why is it satisfying? There’s something going on with the eye, the visual encounter, my spirit meeting the viewer. The last piece I painted while consciously mourning Cornelius was a triptych. It is abstract on one level but has entry points. There’s a lot of metallic paint, gold and bronze pigment, which by association is deeply religious, as in the icons of the Byzantine tradition. Lustre and gold is always God. The painting is contemplative. It is quiet but boom-booming at the same time. It has a presence.

3 thoughts on “SOPHIE LÉVY BURTON Soul Sister

  1. The paintings are gorgeous. What is the medium/media?
    .. I can’t identify which voice is whose.
    Which of you did the paintings?

    1. Thanks Betti! These are paintings by Sophie Lévy Burton, mixed media, mostly watercolour, pastels and liquid metal paint. She’s being interviewed by Corinna Ferros, written up as a single narrative. So glad you like them!


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