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Meet the artist: Lia Anna Hennig

I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Meet the artist: Lia Anna Hennig

Hi Lia! Thank you so much for taking time for us!

So please tell a little bit about yourself and your artistic background? 

I am a visual artist with German roots, grew up in North Italy and now live and work in London. I studied Fine Art and experimental Film at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, with an Erasmus semester at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-Arts in Paris, before coming to London to complete an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins.

I work with a variety of media, at the moment mainly drawing and moving image, exploring surreal ideas emerging from every day life. Food in its widest sense is the ongoing theme, which informs my work in various ways: from the plant or animal origins to its preparation and consumption…

I am currently working on a new venture called “Spaghettirain”, which are printed homeware inspired by food and the weather…The name comes form one of my drawings, which sparked me to translate my work into new mediums and bring it back directly to where the ideas come from – the home. The shop will be online soon. You can follow Spaghettirain on Instagram to get updates and see the new developments of this project.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion?

Not really… I grew up in an artistic family, both of my parents are stage and costume designers in theatre and they made it very clear to me, that following your passion is the only way forward… As most young children, I have always really been into drawing/painting, but I thought of “becoming an Artist” of something quite cheesy (I love this expression, the first time I heard it was from Mark Lecky, my professor at Art school in Frankfurt) and somehow a bit pretentious. At first I wanted to become a film director, growing up near the Swiss border I used to obsessively follow the Filmfestival in Locarno. Later I applied to the film class at the Städelschule in Frankfurt as a starting point. The school was very free and open minded, so I was able to experiment with all sorts of things, not just film – and I was hooked – Art gives you the freedom to do whatever you want …

Do you have a routine or rituals as you work? 

It depends on the work. Drawing takes up a lot of time and can be quite meditative, so I often listen to the radio, which gives me a good balance of focus and distraction. Music can influence the work and I quite like the randomness of radio.

When I shoot or edit video I need mental space and no interruptions, even though I am open to chance effects, so I sometimes allow things to happen, like a child or cat wander through a scene.

Do you have a favourite photograph or painting, which inspires you?

It’s hard to pin it down to one image, but one image, or rather a series of paintings, which I find incredibly inspiring, especially considering that they have been created more than 400 years ago, are Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s fruit and vegetable Portraits of the Seasons, in particular Summer (1563). I actually love all of his portraits. He also painted a series of the four elements with portraits made out of various fish types to represent water, animals to represent the earth, burning wood for fire and a variety of birds stand for air. They are a bit grotesque and absolutely beautiful at the same time!

What visual references do you draw upon in your work?

All sorts of things, from street art to vintage illustrations of cookbooks from the 50ies to scientific drawings and medieval book illustrations. I always keep an eye out for the unusual. I love the old and the mysterious, so flea markets and antique shops are my thing, as well as visiting old castles and looking at hidden details…

If you could be born in another period of history, when would it be?

I guess I have been brought up fantasising and dreaming about gone by eras due to my parents’ theatre work. I have a weakness for nostalgia and there are only a few things I love more than a costume ball. So my impulsive response would be Rococo… but just for a few weeks if I could time travel…

But I would definitely choose to be born in 1981 J

What is your greatest indulgence in life?

My indulgences are of course food related… they range from the first freshly ground coffee in the morning (without kids!), lazy family brunches on weekends, my husband’s delicious homemade cocktails, to the occasional high tea extravaganzas. The way to my heart is certainly “through the stomach”…

Best advice ever given?

At a studio visit as a student in Frankfurt the artist André Butzer said to me, after looking at a “crazy” installation I had made out of cut off tree parts painted with red nail polish, “Do even more, make everything yours, create a whole world”. He was so motivating and inspiring and that’s what I kept doing with my students whilst teaching, and not just students actually, I think it is really part of live to get inspired and inspire others, to give and take so to speak. So the best advice was to be bold and take risks… and if you can’t always do it yourself for various reasons, inspire others to do it!

Artist website
Instagram @lia_anna_hennig
Video work online viewing\
Spaghettirain Shop
Instagram @spaghettirain_studio