Era não era
Is It, is It Not?
When you see something special, it sticks with you. I first came across the magical work of Clara Leitão when she began studying in the Scottish Borders four years ago and my feelings have only become more fond over time.
Clara Leitão is a Portuguese illustrator and textile designer, who studied Design for Textiles at Heriot-Watt University. She creates visual stories through a variety of mediums, from painting, to screen-printed textiles, stitching and tridimensional illustrations. These stories are deeply personal, often connected to memories, travels, dreams, tales and imagination.
Clara hopes to externalise the images that inhabit her mind. She wishes the viewer to freely interpret those images, creating space for infinite narrative possibilities.
Is It is It Not?, is a series of narrative paintings and textiles based on folk tales and my childhood drawings.
When I was younger I read the book Traditional Tales of the Portuguese People (Contos Tradicionais do Povo Português) by Teófilo Braga, which filled me with awe and never left my memory. Recently, I read it again and was surprised at how different the tales felt, much darker, perverse even. I was interested in capturing that duality of innocence and mischief that is so characteristic of fables. Looking at my childhood drawings was very important. I felt a profound connection to them and could remember myself reading those tales for the first time.
Within this series, each medium tells a different part of the story. This process made me dive into the subconscious mind, a place where I believe the truth of each person lives.
Clara’s work has a dizzying effect, where rules of gravity and logic drift into phantasmic realms. Her work tells stories that feel disconcertingly familiar – looking at them reminds me of devouring large colourful pages, sitting beside wooden window boxes at the library. Each illustration feels almost intrusive like people watching, while gently considering the multiplicity of each and every vivid individual.