Mahaut Harley Leca

Photography portrait artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Mahaut’s work epitomes female fragility, femininity and power, the allure of what is a woman, who we are and the mystery of being female.  Even though she shows the naked form, it’s how it is done that reveals a different context.  Her collages are suggestive in the relation of form and the delicate frame of the female body.  From an arm, hand, hip, thigh, the way a woman crosses her legs, the dimples on her back, the beauty of what it means to be a woman and the celebration of the feminine.  Like the feline cat with grace and allure yet strength and independence. She explains to me that her work is the opposite of the crass and what she calls vulgar and objectifying of women and femininity.  It is about being curious again, in a generation where people want things instantly and get bored easily.

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‘Envelop’ by Mahaut Harley Leca
collage artwork artist cake
‘Envelop’ by Mahaut Harley Leca

She is a multidisciplinary artist, whether it is collage, image transfer, installations or painting. She puts a lot of thought into it. So she was surprised when her work had been criticised by some individuals because they considered her work as objectifying women.  Quite the opposite she tells me, it is not about breasts, vaginas and sex, it’s about a personal poetic translation of her perception of being female. “Why do people have such a negative relationship to the body, we are all born naked” she explains with a subtle exasperation!  Mahaut questions this approach in our society about how on the one hand, sex, porn and violence has become an acceptable part of our modern lives. Yet her artworks of the naked form are the opposite of objectifying the female body. It’s like the face, it is what makes us who we are, the shape of our breasts, the length of our waists, or the size of our hands and everything in relation to each other, that we can recognise a person from a distance.

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Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst
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‘Entre tes lignes’ by Mahaut Harley Leca
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Clair Obscure, painting by Mahaut Harley Leca

Mahaut is a French name, from the golden age, which became Mathilde over time. Born and raised in London by her French parents and although a Londoner she has a subtle and beautiful French Anglo accent, due to her education, bouncing from the French system to the British system, starting out at Lycée Francais, then attending Hampton Court House and St James. She graduated with a foundation at City&Guilds in Art and Design and then attended Camberwell College of Arts where she did her degree in Fine Art painting. Additionally a semester abroad in Milan where she studied at the Academia di Belle Art, “The traditional way” she exclaims, “Life drawing twice a week”. Since then she has done two residencies one in Atina, Italy near Rome and recently at The Muse Gallery in Portobello, London.

photography portrait artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Before this ongoing investigation of the body, Mahaut used to paint mainly portraits, faces of old people and people of character, but was eager to step away from her comfort zone and started to blur the works, which created something suggestive. It’s part of our interpretation of how we see the subject in the painting.  As if looking through a frosted window at someone and trying to make sense of what we see. Later, whilst in Milan she put painting aside and started to make digital collages by experimenting with images of her own body and cutting off her face, so not to reveal her identity, before focusing on other female forms, that developed into her current collage series.

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‘Wabi Sabi’ by Mahaut Harley Leca
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‘Doré au soleil’ by Mahaut Harley Leca
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‘La main sur le coeur’ by Mahaut Harley Leca

 Mahaut explains to me that she challenged a lot of what she was taught in art school in the UK.  She believes that art is a reflection of who we are, but that she was encouraged in art college to be conceptual and political.  Her collage artworks are appropriation of images from old magazines, papers and even old porn magazines, transforming them to be something completely different. She feels she is going the complete opposite way of what contemporary art is nowadays. Traditional in her outlook of what she regards what it means to be feminine, but contemporary because she is cutting up the body and putting it back together to create something different. The body is to be appreciated for what it is, in that it is subtle.  So one could argue that Harley is being political.

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‘Volupté’ painting by Mahaut Harley Leca
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‘A Body of Work I’ by Mahaut Harley Leca
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‘Departed’ by Mahaut Harley Leca

Her installations ‘Departed’ 2017 collage artworks printed on organza 120x190cm mounted on wooden frames or hanging as curtain in front of the window at the Muse gallery. Makes the point that art is personal for both the artist and the person who chooses to purchase the work. When it comes to discussing the commercialising of her work. Harley explains that’s not why she is doing art, if her intention was to sell she wouldn’t be doing what she does. However she recently sold paintings at The Other Art Fair in London, in fact one of her main pieces, a painting was sold on opening night to a couple of collectors, a strong and subtle portrait of the naked upper torso of a woman. She teaches art to children to help pay the bills, Mahaut Harley Leca is also an Art Director in fashion.  I enjoyed this side to her when planning her shoot, when we were able to engage and share ideas, especially when she introduced me to the film director Jean Luc Goddard.  Or when she introduced me to the supercilious cake shop Pearl and Groove on Portobello Road, for our collection of cakes for the portraits. Styling for the photos are by inspiring young stylist Milena Agbaba, who additionally became hand model for those delicious cakes for our portraits.

Photography portrait artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Tom Elkins

portrait artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

As all photographers know a great photo is about three main points, lighting, composition and narrative. Tom and I are sitting in a restaurant in North London talking about his work. “Photography as a creative form is incredibly gratifying very quickly” he tells me.  He is right, it is nowadays, that’s because it’s become instant, since we have digital cameras. It was a different story when we used film, with the impatience we felt as we waited for it to develop, the variations of film, understanding the processing of light on film and chemicals. Nowadays film photography has become more of an art form.  Tom has taken the digital camera and used it as a tool to capture something quite different. He loves projected light, how light falls, how it transforms as it lands on an object; following patterns on furniture, water and landscapes. Apply that to the human form, simplify it and let it reveal the complexities of it in a very different way; this is what he has created in his recent works. 

Artwork photography black and white CAKE
Photo artwork: Tom Elkins

Contours, his first series in 2013 based on this concept, is a visual treat for the eye and the imagination. Using a projector, he photographed his subjects in a dark room and what you have is the contours of the human body in a stunning display of grid like patterns. The naked woman in a chess board grid, the seated man in stripes and the blooming bulge and shape of full-term pregnancy in circular strips like Saturn’s moons. Incredibly simple and yet so effective in what the images evoke to us the audience. 

Artwork photography black and white cake
Photo Artwork: Tom Elkins
Photo artwork black and white cake
Photo Artwork: Tom Elkins

He followed this theme, playing with different ideas, like Single Line Portraits. Projecting a single light onto his subjects in the dark, the result is a beautiful single outline as the light hits the human form. He then took it another step, with this time the subjects themselves making tears in paper which light was projected through. Whilst they posed naked, the projected light revealing aspects of them. You cannot identify them but they reveal a sensuality and sexuality, I suppose. “I was surprised by what people came up with” he explains. His subjects are relinquishing control, and they have their own perspective of the outcome. Then there is a rather surreal idea, Fingerprints. Each subject had their fingerprint placed on the slide with ink, and Tom projected the light through the slide.  These portraits are particularly fascinating, the light brings out all the details of the texture on his models and the patterns resemble the skin of a snake, whether on the face or the body.

Artwork photography black and white cake
Photo Artwork: Tom Elkins
photo artwork black and white cake
Photo Artwork: Tom Elkins

Tom grew up in the seaside town of Gosport surrounded by family and moved to London in 2002 after graduating in Philosophy and English from York University. The philosophical mind and the narrative is what is projected in all his photographic work, “Good photographs are like novels with half the pages torn out” he claims. With all art it’s the thinking behind the work and how it’s implemented that is key. After graduating, he started working for charitable organisations in London, he believes in helping people. He now teaches journalistic photography to young people and children, and the charity works in 40 different countries, including Nigeria and Uganda, on a range of issues. Philosophy is best when it talks about people’s experiences, he claims. He enjoys the collaborative elements in photography and making sense of the chaos in the world. Fortunately, he is able to travel a lot with his job, to bring about change. 

Photography portrait artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst
photography art artist cake
Photo Artwork: Tom Elkins
Photography artwork artist cake
Photo Artwork: Tom Elkins

Then he shows me his next body of work, shot in Chernobyl, of images of empty buildings, depicting the state of decline, death, and abandonment. The images depict what Health and Safety posters look like in a Nuclear disaster, 30 years later. What would have been a vibrant town, village and community has been left to decay, capturing the isolation, deterioration and loneliness. There is an abstract art element to these photographs, the colours and composition of these silent images are breath taking in the stillness and the delicate narrative, however still compelling in what they reveal. In tonal blues, soulful greys, gentle yellows and reds, they reveal a beauty about such a tragic event and the essence of time. This series of work will be his next exhibition at the University of Puerto Rico.

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Photo Artwork : Tom Elkins
photography artwork art cake
Photo Artwork: Tom Elkins

Tom Elkins struggles with the ethics of some photographs, he tells me, with how much bias we are bringing to the image ourselves in what is often seen as an objective medium. Photography is subjective in terms of the audience who sees it. He mentions how with street photography he had this problem. He is man of great conscience, if one can say that, clearly intelligent and professional, however most striking to me, thoughtful, insightful and genuine. He is married with one toddler daughter, Tom is clearly besotted with her as we talk about our children, and the adventures of watching them develop. 

photography portrait cake artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Ed Burnand

Photography portrait artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Images of dystopia, abandoned and destroyed urban landscapes and culture, Ed Burnand’s artwork is a striking narrative, made up of explorative processes and mediums.  C type photographic prints, painting and large format halftone screen prints with spray painted backgrounds have evolved into a divergent process. ‘My practise has developed over the years to establish deeply personal ways of making marks on canvas, paper and metal plates with a keen interest in the systems of making and the relationship between material properties, process and environment.  The aim is to create proto-narratives, each open to their own interpretation, but all informed by a theme or set of boundaries.’

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‘Relics in Winter’ artwork: Ed Burnand
artwork abstract art cake
Artwork: Ed Burnand

His earlier abstract work, is beautiful with the most spectacular colours and formations a science of chemical process exploration without end.  Each painting is in a perpetual state of evolution, that is until atrophy occurs.  Ed is always trying to find the ultimate backdrop, capturing paints reactions in polyurethane, uric acid etched zinc plates, exploring the system aspects of colour through ageing and oxidisation that creates a labyrinth of extraordinary patination and form.  He has the classical tuition of being a painter yet his inspirations are artists like Joseph Beuys, Robert Rauschenberg, Thomas Ruff and Anselm Kiefer to name but a few.  He is influenced by the abstract passage of time and the ebb and flow of all things.

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‘Lobophyton’ artwork: Ed Burnand

‘With something like destruction comes something else, a renewal’ he tells me. 

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‘Cosmic Soup’ artwork: Ed Burnand
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Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

His most recent body of work is a large format screen print series taken from the abandoned and partially demolished North Peckham Estate documented in 2000.  There is a historic quality to them, with a contemporary twist.  The estate was notorious for gang violence and crime, that culminated in the murder of Damilola Taylor in 2000.  Described by Ed as a rabbit warren, a disorientating place, brutal, very difficult to get in and out of and dangerous; he explains, an example of London’s social housing.  His intention was to document the destruction of this place in a state of undress.

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‘Whose Going to take the Weight’ artwork: Ed Burnand

On entering the closed off estate he was surprised to find young boys already running around vandalising the abandoned homes, throwing objects, washing machines and cookers over the terraced balconies.  His artwork captures a narrative that reflects the death of utopian idealism.  The solid large black halftone images of barbed wire/fallen brickwork with remnants of what still stands, alongside boys running in loose clothing away from the camera down a narrow passage with a Hitchcock like vanishing point.  His tower block series is based on human legacy, environment and social idealism versus economic reality.  For the most part the artworks are named after song titles ‘Midnight in a Perfect World’ ‘Whose Gonna Take The Weight’ ‘Dust Bowl’ and ‘Candy Land’ a reference to his own cultural identity and the anchoring of place and time.

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‘Dust Bowl’ artwork: Ed Burnand
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‘Midnight in a Perfect World’,   ‘Candy Land’ artwork: Ed Burnand

Ed grew up in South East London before moving to Brighton at the age of 10.  Returning in 1999 to study Fine Art painting at Camberwell College of Art, this is at odds with his overall ethos, stating, “ I’m not a painter in any traditional sense, but rather a multi disciplinary practitioner, an image-maker”.  His artistic influences in German art, surprises me, he is from a very long established English heritage and I find it refreshing to hear an Englishman speak so positively about German creativity, as we discuss both, British arts and wit as well.  His mother introduced him to art from an early age, getting him to lie about his age when he was just seven or eight, so she could take him into an Otto Dix exhibition, (noted for his realistic depictions of German society during the Weimar Republic and the brutality of war), this had a profound impact on him.

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‘Port in a Storm’ artwork: Ed Burnand

Burnand is a very informative man, as we chat about history, culture and society, it’s hard to keep up.  He is Intelligent, intellectual and knowledgeable about pretty much everything, with a sophisticated aura, however he is shy to talk about himself, this humility makes him all the more charismatic.  Ed is also a qualified bench joiner and wood machinist and runs his own business as a cabinet-maker in East London.  He is married to Bella who is also an artist and they have two young children.  They live on the river Lea, bargee travellers that cruise the inland waterways.  His love of water and boats, stems from his youth sailing on the south coast with his father.  I find his home particularly charming as he invites me onto their beautiful house boat, I immediately feel welcome when I arrive on board, entering into a bright pretty kitchen to meet some of the family.  It’s a clear sunny autumn day and we sit on top eating cake and having tea with Bella and their young daughter after our interview. 

portrait tea and cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst


photo portrait artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

When I first laid eyes on Onyx’s work I would describe it as experiencing the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral with its abundance of Gargoyles and decorations, combined with Toy-story’s animation and the mind of Alice in Wonderland.  His large sculptures, that take months to complete, are a journey of storytelling.  Onyx’s artwork, not his real name by the way, is about Onyx, who became what he is today after being in a coma for a month.  The sculptures are something so surreal, that you feel as if you have woken up in the middle of Pan’s Labyrinth.  A film about the unconscious and the surreal and the dream like state that we humans all experience to protect us from trauma.

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You’re Wasting my Time by Onyx 
Artwork sculpture artist cake
The Falsed Resurrection by Onyx

Onyx, or Jim, a nickname he is known as, is an artist you don’t come across often.  His works are creations of the fantasy and reality of heaven and hell, universe and aliens, women, birth and love.  A story telling in sculptures made of artefacts collected at early dawn raids from all sorts of quaint places, antique fairs, toy shops, car boot sales, charity shops, weekend ventures scavenging through worn and broken toys, lost artefacts rejected and unloved and Onyx recreates each little piece however small and fragile, to tell a whole new narrative.

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Birth of Destructions by Onyx

The account of how a builder, who stabbed his leg accidentally with a very sharp Stanley knife, whilst finishing off a refurbishment job, fell into a coma and woke up to create these phenomenal artworks, is for enquiring minds!  I am one of them.  He explains whilst unconscious, hallucinations of being in hell, seeing the future and how like in the Matrix he traveled through a maze of nightmares with apparitions tormenting him and preventing him to find his way out.  How every level of truth, bad and good brought him closer to home and consciousness.  However, after every fail he would return to the start of hell and repeat the experience, until the final journey, where he was able to confront his demons and came back to life in the conscious world.

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Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Onyx is married to Michelle who he has been with for 22 years, they have three sons, Sonny and Mason; Michelle gave birth to Lucas two weeks ago, and I am able to cradle this beautiful infant in my arms as he sleeps and I listen to Onyx explain his journey as an artist.

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Start Wars by Onyx
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The empire strikes back by Onyx

His first artworks, his paintings,  stencilling and airbrush techniques, started in recovery,  inspired by Star Wars, with the dry arid humour of a Londoner, The Start Wars and The Empire Strikes back about the Cold War hang in his gallery with his sculptures encased in glass.  Onyx, currently has five main pieces, Beethoven’s Destructive Symphony, The Birth of Destructions, You’re Wasting my Time, The Dream Catcher and The Falsed Resurrection.  Each peace has a central figure, then two lives moving from darkness to light, all telling their own anecdote.  Some about the centre of great minds, alien life, the universe and the humility to be human.  Some about who is wasting who’s time, with time cogs on cherubs.  All Sculptures start with one core character and build up layer, road, journey and weave bending and evolving to become one giant piece of three dimensional story telling.  It’s magical, frightening, curious, very beautiful and bewitching.

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The Dream Catcher by Onyx
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Beethoven’s Destructive Symphony by Onyx

His inspirations came whilst researching designs for a tattoo that he was designing after surviving a major skin graft,  it was discovered that his injury that was undetectable, because the cut was so sharp,  the poison had entered the system and he ended up having Necrotizing fasciitis NF, and Onyx warned me to not look at the images on google as I check the spelling.  I didn’t look at the photos!  As a victory to his recovery the tattoo was a symbol of his survival and this is when he came across the artist Kris Kuksi.  Onyx subsequently decided he would make his own sculptures.  Spending months on each artwork, he made them for himself primarily, as part of his recovery.  When someone first encountered the artworks,  Onyx was advised to show the works, and he decided to have Lenticular’s made of each piece so he would have something to keep when his sculptures were sold.  Now however the Lenticular are popular themselves; each artwork is photographed 30 times on a track and the images interlaced to create a 3D image, all done on computer. The results are just out of this world.

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3D Lenticular of Dream Catcher by Onyx
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3D Lenticular of Beethoven’s Destructive Symphony by Onyx

Onyx is a Hackney boy, who grew up with humble hardworking parents, and he had his share of troubles during his childhood.  His father devoted his time to his son’s recovery which healed old wounds of anger, his family surrounding him with love, as well as support with his recent venture as an artist.  May I point out that Onyx’s early career started out as a photographer in still life, working his way up in a studio until he himself was taking the photos of High end contracts, Tiffany jewellery, Wimbledon trophies and older Crown Jewels, here he learnt about lighting and composition.  The year was 1990, when he explains the pay was terrible, money dragged him away and he went into the building industry which paid well. There has always been the artist at the core and as with a diamond it starts out rough, it’s chipped, shaped and moulded until it shines bright.

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Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Mark Charlton

photo artist cake portrait
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

The first time I saw one of Mark’s B12 Module paintings on my laptop,  I was hooked; so fascinated was I by the impression of an initial reality of what the future could be. In these artworks, the minute details, the delicate lines and shapes that complete a whole organic type structure floating in the darkest depths of space.  Painted in sunset oranges, pine greens, sand yellows, flame reds and baby pinks, yet almost comic book in style.  The titles of each painting alone are super imaginative, The vast Supernova Reaction, Titania Still Glowing, Cold Existence in Field of Stars could be telling us a narrative of our future. His first solo show in 2015 at the Brighton Art fair featured this series, and since then he appears at The Other Art Fair in London and Brighton twice a year.

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The Vast Supernova Reaction; by Mark Charlton
Artwork painting art cake
The Glistening Red Nova Theory; by Mark Charlton
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Pluto Calling; by Mark Charlton

Today in London, he has something completely different on display, I am looking at his Titan series, large artworks with a detailed collage of his own screen printing and painted paper applied on an Aluminium panels.  Mark’s works are never pre planned he tells me, exploring various techniques, such as applied mixed media, painting, screen printing, collage.  An early bird he is in the studio at 5am gradually building up his paintings, its emotional he explains, it’s the layering in his mind his love of texture, homing in on his execution, spending hours to create the proper surface, seven to eight hours straight in the studio wearing masks as he experiments with materials. The results are just beautiful.

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Titan 133; by Mark Charlton
collage artwork screen printing cake
Titan 131; by Mark Charlton

Mark I would say on first impression is what I would call a cool Englishman, highly intelligent, he is an innovator, his grasp of subtle and complex humour, his interest in the surreal and quirky.  He started out as an animator, a career choice that he made after wanting to be a pilot at the Royal airforce and then changing his mind.  He is private, discreet, polite and very interesting.  Charlton studied at North East Wales Institute of Art and Design, gaining a BA Hons in Animation Design in 2001.  After his degree he taught animation in schools, became a freelance animator and graphic designer and then set up his own animation company.  Most of his clients were in the music industry, including the famous band Passenger as well as Frightened Rabbit. His business ran for several years, yet Charlton became frustrated with it and explains how he often felt that the creative control of his work was pressured with limited budgets spending hours at the animation desk. However very grateful for the time and opportunities he had working with many of the artists. He did decide on a different journey and rented himself a studio in Hove and started to create artworks.

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Titan 132; by Mark Charlton

Mark was born in Margate Kent, his father was an Electrical Engineer so they traveled when he was young, he grew up in Bangladesh between the ages of two till five, then they moved to Jordan until he was eight, when the family moved back home to Sussex.  He has never left the area for long and speaks of his love of nature and spending time with it and how much he enjoys being close too the sea.  By contrast he also loves; arguably what some would regard as the slightly disturbing cartoon series Ren and Stimpy, from America in the 90’s; about the frighting psychotic Chihuahua and a docile cat.  The incredible 2001: Space Odyssey by Stanly Kubrick, and Sci-fi Eagle comics, from the 1950’s then re introduced in the 1980’s.   His love of aeroplanes, mechanics and architecture with a particular interest in a cold war brutalist style, Monoliths he tells me, and he loves concrete as a substance.

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Titan 130; by Mark Charlton

 All these interests have a clear influence on his work, although each stage of his career as an artist has something completely unique, his B12 Module series and Titan. This year his paintings are what I would describe as sensuous wall sculptures, abstract again with the attention to detail, but this time not to only grab our visual senses but the desire to stroke and touch.  As he indulges me with his technique and materials, I stroke the silken texture of concrete and run my fingers over his work, across the lines and ridges that he painstakingly created.

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The Brighthope Fragment 1; by Mark Charlton
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The Brighthope Fragment 2; by Mark Charlton
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Cold Existence in a field of Stars; by Mark Charlton

Charlton also runs a print company together with his partner Jackie who also manages the business side of his art.  He doesn’t like to be photographed and have his image placed on the internet, but he is open minded with the idea of trying to create an image of him without really showing him as he holds a piece of cake spiked on top of a fork.  All this as we are standing in the crowded Victoria House, whilst he is managing his stall and speaking to buyers.

photo shadow cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Jo Pethybridge

 artist ceramics cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Vineyards in France, the Grand Canyon, the waves and ripples of water in the ocean or pine forests in summer and autumn, you are looking at ceramic art, the creations of Jo Pethybridge’s artwork.  I am looking at a bowl, and may I add, its not to be useful, this is what Jo explains to me.  The round shape alters the perspective of what is a vineyard or the ripples in sunlight on water, or her fishlike plates, star shaped dishes or what is the shape of vase.  Her work is different and none of her designs are the same, everything tells a different story, it is intricate and delicate yet bold and abstract and most defiantly contemporary.  “People keep telling me to make something useful” she tells me “I want to make something I really love and people who buy it really loves it”  and then she tells me a story of her most satisfying sale when a customer was so effected emotionally by a piece of her work, that she bought it.

Ceramics Artwork cake
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge
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Artwork: Jo Pethybridge
Artwork ceramics artist cake
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge

For Jo, art was an escape; although now retired from working as an Occupational Therapist and what earned her a living for a long time. It was creative in its own way and she loved it she explains “ I wanted to do something useful ” but it was also very stressful, ceramics was her therapy, a form of meditation.  Pethybridge and I talk about the making of her artwork and how she prepares the clay and how using her hands is one stage of the work.  Raised, to use her right hand when she is actually left handed; it was obviously cruel, however Jo looks at the positive and explains how subsequently, she can use both hands and that using her hands to dig in the earth as a child is the same when she is working the clay, very therapeutic.  We laugh at how we can remember being children and how some of us enjoyed getting down in the dirt and others were afraid to get dirty. “ The clay is my canvas ” she tells me, making them in batches, after moulding and baking and then the second stage the painting. 

Artwork ceramics artist cake
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge
Ceramic artist art cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst
Artwork Ceramics artist cake
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge
ceramic art artwork cake
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge
ceramic art artists cake
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge

Jo started ceramics in her 20’s and graduated from art college in Newcastle, born in Birmingham, her father had immigrated from Poland after the war and married her Scottish mother.  Jo met her husband in Oxford, together making Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle their homes before moving back to London in 1996.  She has also traveled extensively, where much of her ideas have derived.  Jo spent time focusing on Motherhood taking time off work, to raise her two daughters and her son and now she is also a grandmother.  She took a diploma in Ceramics whilst her children were still very young and started creating and exhibiting, then returned to work as an Occupational Therapist.  Yet, there is more to Jo, she has always been an energy healer or therapist and practises yoga, she runs the Highgate Energy Healing Centre in London, and anyone can walk in.  She has also been  involved in the Women’s Centre in Kentish Town, giving some healing to African women,  who are here in England from very tragic lives, she explains, stranded in a country where they are not allowed to work until their asylum status comes through.  We had been talking about South Africa and how we both noticed that racism was still prevalent and that living in cosmopolitan London we are spoilt. “ But spoilt in a good way ” Jo adds. “ People are afraid of integration ” she points out and that London is an example of how it can work.

Ceramics Art Artwork cake
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge
Artwork ceramics cake artists
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge
Ceramics artwork artist cake
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge
artwork ceramics artist cake
Artwork: Jo Pethybridge

Pethybridge is a member of the East Finchley Open House and will be opening her house with other artists June/July 2019.  They are also holding an exhibition in November 50:50 at the Highgate Literary Society.  Currently she is thinking about applying to show at the Ceramics Art London.  Her next one is at Hornsey library with Islington Arts Society, which will be opened by Tristram Hunt, the director of the Victoria and Albert museum.  She has had many exhibitions and often works together with other artists teaming up and complimenting the differences in their work.  She enjoys the painting side of her ceramics the most, she explains and the reflection time to paint, sketching ideas or taking pictures from nature and everything around her, inspirations come from an array of different sources.  She emphasises how exhibitions give her something to work towards, that she particularly likes having a topic.  Then Jo reveals the importance of healing when she informs me how during a meditation session the reflection of the light around the candle became the inspiration around a pot design and confirms something I have always believed that you may learn a skill but creativity can never be measured. 

Photography artist cake portrait
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst



Serena Korda

Artist installation art
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

The first installation work I viewed by Serena, I was mesmerised by a gigantic puppet show, with a giant monster that resembles a dinosaur moving gently. Slowly I realised that its movements were achieved by puppeteers each moving different parts of the monster; I didn’t notice this at first so enchanted was I by his movements.  The camera pans and a girl appears dancing, wearing ballet shoes, pale pink tights, over a tutu she is wearing a rounded ball of boobs.  She dances with the monster seducing him.  The installation ‘Aping the Beast’ was Serena’s first big solo show at Camden Arts Centre 2013.  Since then she has created shows over a vast array of topics and mediums, some among them The Jug Choir, Black Diamond, Missing Time, Laid To Rest, The Namer of Clouds and There is a Strange Wind Blowing.

Installation Art, Film, Puppet
Aping The Beast, Battle of the river: Serena Korda
Installation Art, film, dance
The Transmittirs: Serena Korda
Artist Installation Art
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Her work is extraordinary, it challenges every aspect of your psyche, it is science, altruism, philosophy, sound, cosmology, multiverse and mythical.  All her ideas stem from a reality and connects with an external idea, then she researches her concepts before implementing her artworks.  Often working on different projects at a time, her projects involve sound engineers, morse code, sound healers, mystics, mathematicians and scientists.  She includes musicians, who might be a local choir whom she records to embody the sound of elves, or members of the public chiming her porcelain mushroom bells. Recording sounds of the universe from homemade radio telescopes and replicating sound resonators inspired by acoustic sound mirrors that were used as pre-radar devices.  Serena created a series of these dishes each weighing a hefty 40 kilograms for Missing Time.  Nothing breaks more boundaries than Serena’s work and yet all of it resonates some form of common sense and thinking, that everything in the universe is interconnected. 

Installation art, Artist
Black Diamond: Serena Korda
Installation Art, Artist
Missing Time: Serena Korda


Artist Installation art
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

She tells me about how her devoted mother encouraged her when she realised her drawings at five were well beyond any other child of that age.  She was additionally very academic and as Serena puts it to me, a nerdy swat.  We had just taken a series of portraits in her studio and garden in Hoxton, when we chat over lunch after our shoot.  Speaking rapidly about her work and then more reflective when I ask about her personal life, her Jewish upbringing, the challenging relationship with her Hungarian father who taught her  a strong work ethic and his passing two years ago whilst she was working on Missing Time with the Norman Lipman/Baltic Fellowship at Newcastle University.  She explains how as an electrical engineer he was initially discouraged by her choice of profession, “ He didn’t get my work at first ” Serena states.  Her deep love and respect for him and his accomplishments is very obvious as she sneaks a photo to me of her parent’s wedding.  I notice how Serena’s eyes are the beautiful sharp blue like her mother with a jet of thick dark hair, and her classically sculptured jawline like her father.  

Mushroom Porcelain bells
Hold Fast Stand Sure, I scream a Revolution: Serena Korda
Installation Art, Contemporary Artist
Laid To Rest, The Procession: Serena Korda

Serena attended Middlesex university in Fine art at the age of 19, following her graduation she began teaching and eventually decided to embark on an MA at the Royal College of Art, so she could focus on her own work.  She concentrated on printmaking and expanding her ideas of film and performance art, “ I was never satisfied by just putting things on a wall” Korda explains choosing performance, was about making objects come to life.  One of her earliest works, in Bow, East London in 2004, Old Mens Flesh, is akin to an anthropological study, Korda explains it’s about machismo, chivalry, tattoos, embroidery and relationships with people.  Serena’s ‘Hold Fast, Stand Sure, I Scream a Revolution’, first shown at Glasgow International 2016, is a breathtaking installation on symbiotic relations, her work with mushrooms, fungi and their important role in communicating to different plant species in the forest.  This symbiosis is a recurring theme in her work and in the works that inspire her such as the book The Third Policeman by Flan O’Brien, which she describes as fusing pseudo science and imagination.  Then I think about her ‘Library of Secrets’ or the ‘ The Prognosticator’ as she films in a Hitchcockian style the relations between an owner and her black cat. 

Film, artwork, black cat, cake
The Prognosticator: Serena Korda
Installation Art, Artist, Cake
There is a Strange Wind Blowing: Serena Korda
Installation art, film, dance
The Hosts: Serena Korda

Currently she is working with the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill.  The Lore of the Land, is an exhibition co-curated by The Collective featuring Korda’s work ‘ Sensitive Chaos’.  This new work sits alongside objects from the Hornimans anthropological collection challenging our anthropocentric view of the natural world whilst highlighting plant and water consciousness.  This combines sculpture and a soundscape made up of plant signals that have been put through synthesisers.  The coming together of science and art, and how all cultures actually come to the same conclusion, plants are powerful.  Then just before we leave she tells me how she included her fathers voice on  Missing Time.

Artist Instalation art
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst,  Hair and Make-up: Aston Davies

Ignacio Lalanne

photo portrait artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

The first painting I saw by Ignacio Lalanne, I was taken by the expression of a portrait of a man’s face, with large deep soulful tragic eyes and pink puckered lips, in almost a heart shape, with rose coloured cheeks as if too much make-up had been applied and a straight bold bone structure with dark rigid lines.  It has elements of a stained glass window, a definitive Romanesque influence, completely pulled apart and put back together to be something completely unique.  As you continue to peruse his other works, from his portrait of Queen Elizabeth I  to his Matador holding his hat, or his painting of a lady with tied up gold hair in a black gothic dress, his style activates and grabs your soul.

artwork painting artist cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
Painting Queen Elizabeth 1 cake artist
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
painting matador contemporary artist
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
Artist painter cake Argentina
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

His influences came early as he grew up in beautiful San Isidro on the river, Río de la Plata, translated, River of Silver, in Buenos Aires, visiting the La Iglesia Del Pilar church every Sunday as a boy with his elegant grandmother.  He paid attention to the fine choreography in the woodwork and embroidered statues, he tells me, as we sit outside South Kensington having a coffee and water in the evening sun.  That was the first layer of the inner core of his artwork, he explains.

Painting art cake artwork
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne

Then tragedy struck the nine year old boy with the death of his mother; isolated and confused he started reading, a deep interest in theology and spiritualism embroiled itself.  After finishing High School in Buenos Aires, he took his back pack and as a free spirit ventured on his quest through Asia.  Two months ended up as being one year, India, Pakistan, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.  India stood out on this quest for knowledge,  working with Saint Mother Theresa’s charitable organisation at the holiest of the seven sacred cities, Varanasi.  He searched for higher knowledge through Hatha yoga as well as exploring traditions of the world.  During this pilgrimage he developed a passion for Japanese art and whilst in India he read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse as well as poems by Rumi.  What he discovered is that beauty and pain come together as one.  “The Lotus grows in dirty water” he tells me, and with this awakening, ” It was as if I had to throw up all this beauty and decided to paint.”  He pulls his palms out to express the release as he says this, the decision happened India, when he decided to study art.

Artist painting artwork cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
painting sailor contemporary art
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne








painting Goddess India
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
Artist portrait painting
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne

In 2001 when Argentina had its financial crisis, Ignacio had to leave Pakistan on his fathers bequest and come to London to sort out family affairs; visiting his Godmother who lived in Gloucester Road.  London started to become his base, working in pubs to save for a foundation course at Kensington and Chelsea then studying fine art in Central Saint Martins.  Other jobs included working in the reception in an apartment block, where he made friends with a gentleman, who was deeply taken by Ignacio’s diligence as the young student sat with books and notes studying in the back during shift breaks.  The man offered to cover a large percentage of his tuition costs.  Lalanne looks at me intently and explains how surprised he was that someone who doesn’t know you can trust you and see something in you.  He tells me about the three most important influences in his life, to whom he is most grateful; his partner, his best friend and his sponsor. 

Artwork artist painting cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
photo artist painter cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

After graduation Lalanne, made his roots here in London, Ignacio hired a studio and started his own practice in now trendy Bow, East London.  With plenty of Exhibitions under his belt, he has made a reputation for himself, however he has felt isolated in his studio at times and didn’t want his art just to be a commodity.   So Ignacio studied mindfulness and theology, and he now uses art as form of healing and meditation as he sees art as a window into our inner soul, recently visiting a spiritual retreat in Ibero, Spain, where he was giving mindfulness workshops.  

art artworks painting cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
Artwork artist painting cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne

We talk more about his art and influences, and he tells me Egon Schiele is an artist whose work he loves, Mugal art, Cusco School as well as Tudor Court paintings.  He tells me about paradox, referencing a visit to Israel, and that he saw the most beauty, most absurdity and the most sacredness.  The alpha and omega, the beauty and ugliness, and the many layers in a painting.  Then he gazes at me intently after describing his mother and how she reminded him of Lisa Minelli in Cabaret, and quotes the book by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The little Prince, “ The essential is invisible to the eye ” . 

Artist painter cake photo
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst


Miriam Lucia

Producer director actor Miram Lucia CAKE
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst
Sam Shepard, theatre plays writer
Encounters with Sam Shepard

Went to see ‘Encounters with Sam Shepard’, a medley of four distinct pieces of Sam Shepard’s work: “Cowboy Mouth”, an autobiographical piece about his relationship in the early 70’s with Patti Smith; ‘Action’, surreal anti Vietnam war piece set in a haunting post apocalyptic world; ‘True West’  a complex relationship between two brothers. ‘Savage/Love’, a set of monologues trying to capture what romantic love is.

This slick production Directed and produced by Miriam Lucia, actor and founder of the Clerkenwell Actors studio, engaged the audience in tense drama that encompassed difficult, emotive often humorous and frighting aspects of human nature, which also revealed our own complexities; the direction and superb performances made me forget where I was.

Theatre producer director sam Shepard
Savage Love, Sam Shepard, CAS Production
Director producer theatre performance
Savage Love, Sam Shepard, Directed Miriam Lucia
Director producer theatre performance
True West, Sam Shepard, Directed Miriam Lucia
theatre performance director producer
Cowboy Mouth,Sam Shepard, Directed by Miriam Lucia
Theatre performance director producer
Action, Sam Shepard, directed by Miriam Lucia

There is an opening title on the poster advert, a quote by Sam Shepard – “I hate endings. Just detest them…The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning.  That’s genius!” –  It could also be a mantra for Miriam’s own journey, which starts in Melbourne Australia.  Her parents, both from Northern Italy, met in Trieste.  Her father, a Photojournalist, met her Mother in the dark room.  Her father left for Australia in 1956 and her mother joined him a year later.  Miriam was born in Melbourne. She commenced her actor training under Helmut Bakaitis, the then artistic director at the St Martins Youth Theatre in Melbourne.  Miriam moved to London at the age of 22 and worked in bookshops and continued auditioning and taking classes.  Met her husband and together they journeyed on to live in Bristol, Sheffield, Florida and Amsterdam, starting over each time and always keeping her finger in the drama pie.

Theatre director producer cake
Scene from Cowboy Mouth, directed by with Miriam Lucia
Sam Shepard actor writer director cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

In Amsterdam Miriam plunged into her career now her two sons were at school.  She met some great creatives in this cultural and popular city, in a few months she was acting, directing and producing her own work alongside working as a dialect coach for some big films. (Glenn Close and Julie Christie were amongst her clients).  She won a bid for a theatre space, started producing and performing several plays “pulling in all her resources” and then went on to set up her first theatre and film company, Minor Miracle Productions.  Alongside her theatre productions she started producing short films fuelled by her work with the Mauritz Binger institute in Amsterdam, a screenwriting institute.  Some of her films were shown at the Cannes and Venice film festivals.

Theatre production director
An Evening on the Couch, directed and produced by Miriam Lucia, CAS Production

Then, boom, another beginning and they are back in the UK and the door revolves the year is 2004. 

Producer director actors american writers
Miriam with her American writers, Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

“Who am I now?” is what Miriam tells me she asked herself, and with that she decided to get back into the UK scene as an actor, found a new agent, started getting theatre work and decided to do an MA in actor training at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  Whilst writing her dissertation she took on the role of understudy for Leslie Manville at the formidable Old Vic Theatre in ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ so that she could interview and observe closely the actors’ process as research for her dissertation.  Interviewing Jeff Goldblum, amongst others, was a real highlight.  Miriam also stepped in several times for Leslie Manville during the run.

Miriam Lucia
Miriam Lucia in Kitty’s Fortune
Actor Miriam Lucia
Miriam Lucia in Guardians of the galaxy

Miriam is an international, having being born and grown up in Australia, she knows that her background inspires and influences who she is and how she works.  She loves being in Europe but also has a great love for American playwrights and film makers, she admires and adheres to the American attitude towards continuing to develop as an actor by taking classes regularly throughout ones career.  In fact this was the inspiration for starting The Clerkenwell Actors studio (CAS) as an ongoing training space for professional actors.  It has evolved into a strong company of actors.  This is something she is very proud of, she believes in constantly challenging yourself as an actor and director.  Her most recent directing work with CAS, includes “An Evening with Tennessee Williams, several mini play Fests producing new writing, and “An evening on the couch ” extracts from David Mamet’s work. 

Theatre director producer cake
Mini Play Fest, Directed by Miriam Lucia, CAS production
theatre production CAS cake
Strawberries in January, directed by Miriam Lucia CAS production

As an actor Miriam has most recently worked on the upcoming BBC series ‘Bodyguard’ and ITV series ‘Girlfriends’  Film includes ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘One Chance’.  Who knows what is coming next.  This is not an industry where one can plan too much ahead but one has to feel inspired and creatively fulfilled to stay in it. 

James Corden film director actor
Miriam Lucia with James Corden in One Chance

“Being the creator of your own work is hugely satisfying and makes me feel totally alive and energised” she says, her next plan is to make a short film of Cowboy Mouth, in the pipeline for October.

Sam was right  “The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning.” 

photography director producer cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst, Hair and Make-up: Becky Buriton

Nayan Kisnadwala

Photography art artist banker guru
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

I am looking at this painting bright silver on vibrant cyan red, of two tropical birds mirroring each other and detailed patterns almost like decorations surrounding each bird as it appears perched on a rose.  I gaze at another image of spirals and circles that form a pattern like a rose set in hopeful gold.  Art and geometry or art and maths, this is what artist Nayan Kisnadwala talks to me about when we meet.  Sacred geometry, he explains is everything in nature, a rose, a flower, nature is perfect geometry, it is the repeating circular movement, as he turns his hand a few times in a circular motion.  I am staring at another painting of roses in the moonlight, one of his series for his upcoming exhibition, the roses are delicate and the leaves shimmer, when Nayan enlightens me with something beautiful, “Gold represents the sun, the sun represents the soul, the moon represents the mind and the coming together of soul and mind is meditation”. 

Painting Artwork Nayan Kisnadwala
Artwork: Nayan Kisnadwala
Artwork artist painting gold geometry cake
Artwork: Nayan Kisnadwala

Always very good at art and maths at school, he had to choose between both his love of maths and art, he decided to choose maths and finance and turned away from his passion for art, he tells me how he was highly ambitious and that he wanted to succeed, and chose a career in banking.  An MBA at New York University Stern School of Business, completely focused on his success, his ambitions paid off and his life has been happy and balanced with constant travel, collecting art, as well as living in a long list of several cities around the world, including New York, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, Lonavla, Houston and Kennett Square in Pennsylvania.  His base is a home in New York, Mumbai and London that he shares with his wife Sonal, and his daughter Karnika Kisnadwala. He married his wife Sonal in New York in 1986, it was during this year he also met Her Holiness GuruMaa Jyotishanand Saraswati at her Ashram, that his spiritual journey also began.

Photo artist banker guru cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Nayan trained in art with the tutelage of David Cranwick, who with a few lessons, turned on his ‘art switch’ like Guru’s do.  When he paints he chants Shri Hanuman Chalisa or listens to the classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj  or Rattan Mohan Sharma, his canvases are his meditation from the universal energy stored in his subconscious mind.  Mesmerising artworks that you will stare at, as the pictures pull you towards them drawing you in.

Artist art painting cake
Artwork: Nayan Kidnadwala

“Nayanmitra Art is spiritual in nature, where I combine learnings and symbols of all philosophies and religions of the world ” he explains, that he has learned that all religions are fundamentally the same and that people just misinterpret them, in his art he combines sacred geometry, colour therapy, numerology to create pieces of art to help with visualisation and positivity.

art artist banker cake
Artwork: Nayan Kisnadwala
painting roses art cake
Artwork: Nayan Kisnawalda

His recent works for his next exhibition are roses, acrylic on canvas; roses are perfect geometry, the selfless creation of God, a beautiful array of colours and fragrances, and are used as offerings to God because of the emotions they represent.

Art artist banker cake guru
Artwork; Nayan Kisnadwala

His parents were originally from Mumbai, but later migrated to Nigeria; however, Nayan grew up in Mumbai where he was born and he reveals that they had humble beginnings and that studying and education was the way out; he tells me that Indians had very little disposable income at the time during his youth to make money in art. 

Artist artwork cake Kisnadwala
Artwork: Nayan Kisnadwala
silk scarf fashion painting
Scarf: Nayan Kisnadwala

However, five years ago in his early 50’s whilst walking through Soho he walked into an art shop and decided to start painting again.  He booked a gallery space for one year later, he filled the gallery with 36 artworks, inviting friends, relatives and colleagues and 50% of all works were sold in one day, donating the proceeds to three different charitable organisations, including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.  Meanwhile, he has since completed more than 201 artworks and has held nine exhibitions in London, New York and Mumbai.  He is also a floral artist, and introducing Nayanmitra Scarves in the near future.

artist photography art
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

He refers to himself and Sonal as being global nomads, citizens of the world and how travel equals education.  Nayan’s passing words to me before I leave for the day is that life is full of ups and downs, if you deal with both of them with same emotions, then you have equanimity.  Accept the rose with its thorns! 

Artist artwork painting Guru banker
Artwork: Nayan Kisnadwala

 I now recognise the symbol of Aum or Om, as some of us know it, it’s in many of his paintings. Aum, a primordial sound, represents the coming together of the soul, represented by the first alphabet of Aatma (soul) in Sanskrit, and the symbol for moon (mind), and the curved line joining both to reflect the meditative state! 

Photography artist Guru banker Cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst