I recently took a refresh­ing stroll along South­bank, & I hope you’d agree it’s always lovely to be able to pop for a walk by the water in the centre of Lon­don!

Quite by chance I came across Xavi­art’s exhib­i­tion at the Oxo Tower Wharf…just as I was about to turn around and head hime, his strik­ing Lion Self Por­trait on the sand­wich board caught my eye and enticed me in!

I was so impressed by the col­lec­tion I went back with one of my daugh­ters the fol­low­ing day!

Xavi­er uses acryl­ic on large canvases, with a var­nish on top…(a tip I took away with me!). His style takes on a cubist char­ac­ter and is very unique. What I love about his use of acryl­ic is the tex­ture he builds up in his paint­ings which is why acryl­ic has been a favour­ite dis­cov­ery of mine.

Aside from his art being truly dope, it was reward­ingly enlight­en­ing to learn the story behind Xavi­er­’s work, it cre­ated an under­stand­ing of how import­ant and pivotal this exhib­i­tion was in his life. Also of what it can teach oth­ers, and the fact that I (and I’m sure I’m not alone) could relate entirely to the ther­apy that paint­ing provided him dur­ing lock­down. Which is what spurred me to con­duct this inter­view: to find out more, share with you, and shine some light on what Xavi­er does.

Thank you for tak­ing the time to answer some ques­tions and share with the world…

Hiiii Xavi­er, fel­low South Lon­don­er, who used lock­down to chan­nel the emo­tions and energy from extern­al bom­bard­ment twinned with solitude, into cre­at­ing art, you actu­ally star­ted your artist­ic jour­ney here …tell us what you would like to share about this, per­haps start with some back­ground about your­self .… What were you doing before this trans­ition? 

Thank you Sally! I was and still am a pro­fes­sion­al trader in the world of asset man­age­ment. This has been my pas­sion and career since I was 18yrs old.

Before start­ing my artist­ic jour­ney, my only cre­at­ive out­let was through designs for the lifestyle/clothing brand called Pledge Alle­gi­ance. A good friend of mine (Scott) could see my raw tal­ent and the abil­ity to think out­side of the box, which really helped nur­ture my cre­ativ­ity. Fast for­ward 7 months, I now juggle all 3 pas­sions, with a recent addi­tion being the ‘This Could End Ter­ribly’ pod­cast with 2 of my close friends.

I’m really intrigued by the igni­tion of your artist­ic flow being just this year, and self taught.…what went through your mind as you picked up that first canvas…how did it even get into your hands?! 

The past dec­ade has been a roller­coast­er for my men­tal health. From los­ing my best friend who was fatally shot in 2010, to hav­ing an early start in an industry that typ­ic­ally causes one to deal with a lot of pres­sure. Lock­down was the first time where, as the world slowed down, I felt that I could truly get up to speed with my deep­est thoughts, emo­tion and per­spect­ive that I had always ran away from.

I would always doodle dur­ing my ther­apy classes, and my ther­ap­ist would always encour­age me to do some­thing with it as I found it calm­ing. I took the doodles and got star­ted on a spare can­vas I had and I haven’t looked back ever since!

Your sub­jects include black his­tor­ic­al fig­ures, hip hop artists, sports per­son­al­it­ies, per­son­al friends.… How do you come to choose that next per­son?

I’d like to think of my work as a diary that reflects my psyche. Ima­gine a men­tal col­our­ing book of thoughts, emo­tion and life exper­i­ences. I’m a pretty deep thinker, so whatever is on my mind at the time, that I feel deeply about, it tends to also come with a vis­ion of how that would look in art form, spe­cific­ally in my cubist style.

I love the iden­ti­fi­able lips and the eye­lids of your sub­jects, would you say that is your sig­na­ture detail on each piece/ is it delib­er­ate, or did it tran­spire over time !? 

It was­n’t delib­er­ate to begin with, how­ever through the first 3 pieces I did (entitled ‘New Shapes’) I used the same style as I illus­trated the growth of a man. I inten­tion­ally use vibrant col­ours through­out my work, how­ever one could sug­gest that there is a sense of an ‘unfazed’ and emo­tion­less sen­ti­ment to it (reflect­ing on the tur­bu­lences of my life exper­i­ences). But I tend to leave that up to the audi­ence to make up their mind.

You have a Spo­ti­fy playl­ist that con­nects to your art, like you, I find that music really affects my artist­ic flow, it’s been my go-to to cre­ate the sep­ar­a­tion between the work space at home and the the peace space at home ! I see one of my faves, A Tribe Called Quest are on your list! How does hip hop influ­ence your art and life & what oth­er music inspires you? 

Like many of us, I grew up on hip hop! Look­ing back at the gen­es­is and pur­pose of the genre, which was to allow people to cre­at­ively express them­selves unapo­lo­get­ic­ally, both lyr­ic­ally and visu­ally. I feel very much in touch with my zen with hip hop play­ing whilst I am cook­ing up a can­vas, and to be hon­est I can­’t stand silence, ha!

You also have a cloth­ing label Pledge, tell us more.… and are you think­ing of put­ting your art onto cloth­ing? 

Yes, I co-design Pledge, which both myself and Scott Medusa (the founder) are very pas­sion­ate about. As for my art, I don’t think I will. Solely for the reas­on that my paint­ings are very sen­ti­ment­al, and I would prefer to keep them at a can­vas or print level, there is more value going down that route.

It seems the exhib­i­tion was a great suc­cess, and you sold some pieces as a res­ult. 

What a bril­liant loc­a­tion for your debut show, it’s great that you also worked with a loc­al school run­ning a Black Lives Mat­ter art work­shop, which will no doubt inspire those chil­dren forever. 

Thank you so much! I believe that our gen­er­a­tion has seen too much. Where we need to pay more atten­tion is in nur­tur­ing the youth, with a clean hearted and open minded per­spect­ive on life, it will go a long way, and work­shops like the ‘I Can’ one in col­lab­or­a­tion with Carl Konadu, really does show that there is poten­tial in the next gen­er­a­tion.

Do you have plans for what comes next in rela­tion to your art. more work­shops? 

Indeed, more work­shops, fin­gers crossed, more inde­pend­ent and group exhib­i­tions (if any­body will have me — lol). The key thing for me is to stay true to the art, pray­ing, to main­tain a level of ori­gin­al­ity through­out my work, and not get dis­trac­ted.

I’m sure you’d be wel­come by any­one who can relate.

Tell us about the pod­cast you’re involved with @thiscouldendterribly … 

I am glad you asked this! So myself and two of my friends have had deep, funny and intel­li­gent con­ver­sa­tions about life, work, cul­ture and what we have exper­i­enced this year. We used to have way too many of these con­ver­sa­tions for us to not try and do some­thing with it. We then had a light­bulb moment, to put a pod­cast togeth­er. Not one of us have had pod­cast exper­i­ence, so we laughed and said that ‘it could end ter­ribly’… est voila! The name of the pod­cast was born and we got going! ha.

As momentum con­tin­ues, your story fea­tures on BBC’s news series ‘Our Lives’. (avail­able on iPlay­er & Xavi­er­’s Instagram)…it’s pretty self explan­at­ory & very well journ­aled- coin­cid­ent­ally by your old school friend Ash­ley John-Bap­tiste, is there any­thing you want to share with regards to your recent TV debut?

To start with, if you were to tell me that my recently dis­covered pas­sion would go nation­al, I’d think that some­body is play­ing a prank on me! Over­whelmed is an under­state­ment, and I truly believe that this has to be God’s work. It came to me and I did­n’t con­tact them about receiv­ing cov­er­age, and that in itself is a bless­ing!

I really am grate­ful that my mis­sion and story has been tele­vised, not from a place of van­ity but to have the oppor­tun­ity to help and inspire oth­ers (which has always been my sole goal).

As I watched it, I thought about the art piece you did in your friend’s memory, how awful to lose a friend the way you did, I’m so sorry for your loss. You say in the pro­gramme that you have a feel­ing of being reborn, do you feel art is helping/has helped you turn a corner in man­aging your per­son­al heal­ing pro­cess & do you feel like it’s giv­ing you per­mis­sion to move for­ward? 

Though I’ve always come across as a vibrant per­son for the major­ity of my life, I have been in some really dark places men­tally, some I still deal with in silence as many oth­ers do. To be able to find an out­let to dive into my thoughts in a lov­ing, pas­sion­ate and fun way, I finally found a cata­lyst that brings out the best of me. I have giv­en my exhib­i­tion and jour­ney through art my all, and really feel light­er with a com­pletely dif­fer­ent out­look on life. I can­’t really explain it, but reborn has to be the closest thing I could think of to describe it.

I can so relate to this Xavi­er, it’s pro­found! Thank you so so much!  

You have demon­strated your abil­ity to chan­nel emo­tions and help your­self through dif­fi­cult times, do you have a cur­rent philo­sophy in life that may help oth­ers to do the same? 

My work glows in the dark, and this is actu­ally a hid­den mes­sage through­out all of my pieces which gives you an idea of my per­spect­ive on life.

‘A star can­not shine unless it’s been through the dark’

Some of your toughest, darkest and frus­trat­ing moments will only make you shine bright­er!

Is there any­thing else you wish to tell the world about you!? 

I always try to see the good in everything, that’s my cata­lyst to life. Good energy breeds good energy, and the out­come is 9.9/10 going to be much more impact­ful to your­self and the world.

Fol­low @xaviart & @pledge.allegiance on Ins­tagram and @byxaviart paint­l­ist on Spo­ti­fy, plus the @thiscouldendterribly Insta + pod­cast on Sound­Cloud

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Sally Mur­row aka Sal­freckles is a Lon­don­er who works in early edu­ca­tion, she has a back­ground in graph­ic design and finds inspir­a­tion for her art from hip hop rhymes and cul­ture.

About Salfreckles

Sally Murrow aka Salfreckles is a Londoner who works in early education, she has a background in graphic design and finds inspiration for her art from hip hop rhymes and culture.