SPACES / HOME AND STUDIO
Art imitates life at illustrator Saffron Wiehl’s home and studio in Goa’s still sleepy Arpora. The rustic villa designed by her artist mother Shireen Mody (who is travelling when we visit) also houses two studios, her mum’s and her own, which looks out to a garden that is one of their greatest muses.
Saffron’s work is refreshingly screen-free, she prefers to work most often with just paper and paintbrushes, and her days, like her space, are enviably balanced. LOVER spent the day hanging out with her and her two dogs, Mamba and Motley.
Your mum is also an artist. What is your earliest memory of drawing and painting?
My earliest memories of painting must have been around the age of 4 or 5 when I would watch my mum in her studio and mimic how she would paint. I remember she did a series of paddy fields and she would be standing at her big easel and I had my mini one, trying to get the shades of the blades of grass right.
What was it like growing up in Goa?
I consider the fact that I grew up in Goa a very fortunate thing. I was always surrounded by nature and playing on the beach with other kids. I never owned a Gameboy or any sort of techy toy. I had a beautiful wooden dolls house my mum made me which kept me going for hours. I also loved to take little sticks and other organic matter and make little houses for the fairies I was sure existed somewhere.
What is your favourite subject to draw?
I love to draw all sorts of subjects. I go through phases as I think most artists do. Right now I’m obsessing over insects. Bugs, beetles, moths, locusts, you name it. It’s the series I’m currently working on for next season’s exhibition.
Just from wandering around your house and garden, I can see bits of it in your work like lobster claw flowers, sea urchins, the skull hanging on the tree. How much of your inspiration comes from nature?
I would have to say all my inspiration comes from nature. Having being surrounded by it my whole life and being lucky enough to live in such a green place, it definitely is a big part of my art. I absolutely love collecting odd bits and pieces from nature whether it’s bones, shells, stones, odd bits of wood, etc.
What is the medium you most like to work in?
The medium I work in is usually always watercolour. I love how it blends and the colours and effects you can achieve with it. Along with that I use my trustworthy old fine liners in all their different sizes. They give me those fine lines I love so much.
You've done a variety of projects. What have been some you really enjoy?
Besides my own work, I have also done some very fun commissions. Usually logos, or something to do with fashion. I did a beautiful piece of a toucan surrounded by tropical leaves for this French fashion designer called La Vie Boheme by Vero M. It was then transferred and hand painted onto the centrepiece of a collection of leather handbags. They turned out beautifully.
Goa is full of creative people, many of whom are artists and designers. Who are some of your favourites?
Well I can’t go without saying my own mother, Shireen Mody. She is an extremely talented artist who paints Goa. She works in acrylic on canvas. From cows, to coconut trees, to paddy fields, she depicts the calm and beauty of Goa perfectly. My favourite designer here would have to be my friend Katja Grew. She has a label called Dadablui and I especially love the one of a kind leather bags she makes. I think I own five different ones. They are perfect for a day or night out and they are all unique pieces with an element of India in them.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me. Hmm.. well, I wake up, have my green smoothie to help kickstart the day. Then I usually work in my studio for a few hours in the morning. I try to get a little work done everyday – whether it’s commissions or my own pieces. Then I’ll usually have some lunch and head to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. On the beach I usually play some beach tennis, slowly getting better and better. Then come home, do some cardio exercise and a little workout. Sometimes I do some laps around the house and my dogs usually chase me so that works them out a little too. Then either dinner in or dinner out with some friends.
What is your favourite space in the house?
My favorite place in the house is definitely my studio. I could spend hours in there. It’s super cozy and I’m slowly doing it up more. It has a glass front so I have a beautiful view of my garden and the fields in front of it. Also beautiful in the monsoon when it’s pouring outside.
Tell me about your line of silk scarves.
Right now I have three finished designs. More are in the making. One is inspired by the different blue tones I came across in the sea in Ibiza. It consists of different variations of cicadas which are also a big part of the Ibiza feeling for me. The next is a pink floral hummingbird scarf. For the girly girl. And the other is definitely inspired by Goa - vivid greens and tropical leaves and insects scattered about.
What has been your experience of selling at the night markets?
Selling at the Saturday night market is a great way to be seen by many. Every Saturday people pour into this market because frankly, it is the place to be. I love meeting people from all corners of the world and of course it’s lovely when they appreciate and buy my art.
What are some of your favourite spots in Goa to
Eat/Drink: There are too many to really name all of them, but a few would be Sakana, La Plage, Gunpowder and Café De Goa. There are also amazing little cafes like Baba Au Rhum and Artjuna.
Shop: Hmm, well, the night market and individual Goa designers like Tia and Dadablui.
Hang out: My hang out spots are the beaches, most usually Little Vagator and Aswem.
What are your plans for the next few months?
I will be in Ibiza for four months on a working holiday. Will hopefully be getting my scarves into the European market and spending beautiful days laying by turquoise waters.
Update: Saffron and her artist mum Shireen Mody have launched their own gallery space Studio Arpora. Visit them at Shop No. 287/GF-SH3, Tambudki Vaddo, Arpora and follow their page on instagram at @studioarpora.
*Photos by Sheena Dabholkar and Nadia Gunardisurya.