All of my art is born out of a love affair with a place.
Name: Sara S’Jegers #
- Nationality: Belgian
- Lives & works in US-Belgium. Currently in Marfa, Texas
- Profession: Artist
- Signature phrase: "Hold on tightly, let go lightly."
I am Sara S’Jegers #
I am an artist and a traveller from Belgium. I have spent most of the last decade living and traveling through the US. I’m always looking for inspiration in places of exceptional natural beauty, and that is how I landed in Mallorca this year. I went to school for graphic design about a lifetime ago, but have been mostly drawn to painting, photography, printmaking, anything that is analog and tactile.
I found the perfect marriage of all of the above in the historic photographic process of cyanotype making. Cyanotypes are basically ‘blueprints’. They require no camera, just watercolor paper or fabric, and a long exposure time. Through a very simple process, they produce images that are Prussian Blue. This process has given me great freedom to go out in nature and capture shapes and light, moments in time really, and this is what most of my current art is based on.
Above: Sara in Mallorca, showing an artwork from the ‘Perfect Storm’ series
How do you relate your art to your life? #
How do you relate your art to your life?
I think any artist will tell you that their art is always intricately related to their lives.
In the last ten or so years, I have had a very nomadic and adventurous lifestyle. Very unconventional compared to the general trend in my home country of Belgium. I did exactly the opposite of what my culture taught me: I let go of the stability of having a set home, a set job, a set place. I let go of any striving or any career, and I embraced the uncertainty and the freedom of the open road. Intuitively, I’ve been drawn mostly to places of tremendous natural beauty. Whether I was in California, Hawai’i, New Mexico, Texas, or Mallorca, I ended up living in the most spectacular places, sometimes in beautiful homes, sometimes in sheds or rustic cabins, but always immersed in wild, natural beauty.
My art came out of my desire to share those intimate moments in nature with the world. For years, I had been looking for a language to convey my experiences. Having ‘strayed’ so far from a conventional life in society, I wanted the art to be a bridge back to society. But mostly I just really longed for ways to share experiences of beauty and peace, and hopefully inspire people to stray a little bit themselves. There’s enormous gifts off the beaten path!
How did your visit unfold? #
I came to Mallorca to make a short film about my art. I had made contact with a local photographer whose work I really love, Laura Caldés, and I felt extremely excited to be able to work with her. We worked for two weeks in early March 2020, and I had planned to return to Belgium after those two weeks. But exactly around my scheduled return, a lockdown was suddenly imposed on the whole island. I decided to wait it out for a few days, and then my flight got cancelled.
Above: Sara working on ‘Nube’ on the beach at Caló de Ses Lleonardes, near Palma. Top right: filmmaker Laura Caldés.
What was your unplanned event? #
As my traveller’s luck would have it, I had checked into a small cottage in the countryside for the last 3 days of my stay, and this is where I ended up staying for four sometimes shaky, but mostly very blissful months. Before the pandemic, I had been working as a massage therapist. I did of course feel unsettled because of the sudden loss of income, but I quickly realized this crisis brought me the opportunity of a lifetime: finally I could work on my art without much interruption. For the first time also, I felt like I could really put to use everything that I had learned on all of my previous travels and adventures! How to be alone for long periods of time, how to deal with the insecurity of financial instability, how to turn a challenge into an opportunity for growth and introspection.
Above: The little cottage Sara stayed in for four months in Llucmajor & Sara developing her cyanotype artworks on top of the pool during lockdown
So you think Mallorca is a place of inspiration? #
A lot of places I have lived in before, mostly in the US, are wild, spectacular, extremely spacious and sometimes even a bit dangerous. Compared to that, I think Mallorca is mostly very sweet and lovely, and very very beautiful. I experienced a peace here that was very conducive to creating. It was just amazing to be there throughout Spring and see so many different kinds of wildflowers take turns at blooming so abundantly. Not to mention the birds. My favorite part of staying in the countryside was waking up and going to bed to the sound of so many chirping birds. It was the first time that I lived on an island and did not feel island fever (in spite of the lockdown!) And I love that there is such diversity in the landscape: there is the ocean, with pristine beaches, but also rugged coastlines, and then there are the Tramuntana mountains, which are definitely spectacular.
The first moment of beauty on Mallorca that absolutely baffled me, on the first day that I had arrived in March, was to see the yellow marigolds, growing by the thousands in fields as far as the eye could see, and to see them dance around in the strong island wind, lit up by the pinks and oranges of the sunset. I just had to make some work in these fields, and this turned out to be the ‘Glebionis’ series. The flowers are also prominently featured in the film I made with Laura Caldés. The film really zooms in not just on my art making process, but is very much an homage to the beauty of Mallorca. I am super excited to share the film with your readers!
Above: Sara working on the ‘Glebionis’ series in the countryside of Porreres, (on right) detail of result.
Artist Sara S'Jegers on Mallorca
With a backdrop of the island of Mallorca, Sara explains her process. Film by Laura Caldes
Sara’s Other Projects and Initiatives #
By the end of June, it was time to leave Mallorca, and to go check in with my family in Belgium. But soon after that, I returned to the US and I am now staying in the quaint high desert town of Marfa, Texas. I am slowly starting to work on some new work, and also spending quite some time on digitalizing all of the art I made in Mallorca and building my online art business.
I’d love for the art to make its way out into the world, into people’s living rooms and work spaces. In these times of social distancing, that means showing the art online. I am excited to get some eyes on the Mallorca video, because I feel like its beauty has the power to transport the viewer to Mallorca without actually having to travel there.
I believe these times call for a radical new use of our imaginations. We may feel stifled when it comes to moving around like we’re used to. But there has never been a better time for planting seeds. For most of us, our old ways and our old lives are crumbling and transforming, so this is the time to dream up how we want to reshape our futures, and how we want to spend the rest of our lives together on this planet.
I believe art, which thrives on imagery and storytelling, has an incredibly important role to play here. It speaks to the creative part of our brains, and creativity is what humanity has always relied on to get through challenging times. Our creative brain is turned on by the opportunity a crisis brings, rather than turned off by it! It understands that when something breaks down, there is the opportunity for something new to be erected out of the rubble. Art encourages that survival resource that we humans have. It supports the kind of imagining that we don’t usually get down to when we are on automatic pilot, in the thick of surviving in our rat race lives.
I consider it to be my role to help people find beauty in the unknown, and also to remind them of the support and soothing that is always there in nature. Now that for most of us, places like Mallorca are not accessible, I hope my art can be a refuge to find peace in instead.
Above: Sara’s rental car on Mallorca, (on right) cyanotype from the ‘Glebionis’ series in developing bath
What would you want people thinking about coming to Mallorca? #
As with most places that take in a lot of tourists and newcomers, I think it is very important to be respectful to the locals who have worked at making and keeping this place so enjoyable for all of us. I personally started learning Spanish from scratch while I was in Mallorca, which is a first step to making actual connections with local people. I’d love to learn more about the history of Mallorca too. And coming from the US, I found Mallorca to be very affordable when it comes to delicious, fresh food. It’s close to both Europe and Africa, and you can find relative isolation in nature, while still being close to markets, beaches and the airport.
- Personal Interview
- Sara’s website: www.sarasjegers.com
- Sara’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/sara_sjegers
- Photographer & filmmaker Laura Caldés’ website: https://lauracaldes.com/
By Memphis Holland
7 September, 2020