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Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.

My name is Shani Leseman. I work as an artist in The Hague, The Netherlands. My works touch on subjects such as spirituality, magical practices, symbolism, and objects as carriers of meaning. I see many similarities between a practice of magic and my practice as an artist, with at its core the use of intuition and the act of listening. Currently I am working with G.C. Heemskerk on monotypes about pigeons. I find it important to also listen to and care for animals, so we make work about that, too. I am also making ceramic works about the outer space, learning to paint with natural pigments, and just finished a publication that holds documentation of ceramic talismans I made.


Shani is wearing KUMISO dress.


Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?

I am lucky to be surrounded by many female artists that inspire me. To name a few:

Trees Heil because of her playful and honest way of creating her own symbolic magical world in her pictures. She has a limitless well of ideas and energy to keep working.

Isabel Cavenecia, her intuitive working method (and protecting it) the otherworldly yet recognizable stories told in her images and touching video work.

Shanna M. Casey for her ways of translating a spiritual journey and connection to the natural into her archetypal images and poetry. Shanna has also made these studio portraits.

In their own ways, all these practices touch upon the feminine.


Shani is wearing KUMISO dress.


Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?

Being a woman inevitably influences how I experience my spirituality, which I then translate into my works. My reactions to being in the ocean or what I dream about find their way into my paintings. My practice of magic or witchcraft also has a lot to do with being a woman due to its long history connected to the oppression of women, the connection to one another and use of intuition.

The way I approach my work method, where intuition is leading and I try to listen to what the work itself wants to become, can also be seen as feminine energy. This energy puts feeling over thinking, which I find important in my work. In the making of it as well as how it is perceived. I see a change in the art world where there seems to be an interest in spirituality and magic in art. I am happy to see that this intuitive or associative way of working is being welcomed more and more.


Shani is wearing MEHARM skirt.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a woman in the arts?

I don’t think for me being a woman has made being in the arts much more challenging. I have had great opportunities working together with female artists and curators and I feel free to follow ideas as they come. Maybe the most challenging has been to protect the source of my work, without trying to (over)explain it. To make and hold space for the emotional, spiritual, intuitive, and associative.


What would you like people to notice in your artwork?

I would like people to notice the fun I have while making the work, for this attention and energy to be encapsulated in the canvas or the sculpture. I would like the work to be an invitation to see that magic is all around. To see symbols (and their meanings) not only in your dreams but also in life. To listen to your surroundings and the ideas that arrive.


Shani is wearing BABYLOMA dress.