INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES courtesy of Xee Summer
Cape Town-based digital artist Xia Carstens, aka Xee Summer, has started documenting her favourite spaces and buildings around Cape town in a series of intricate sketches.
What inspired your Cape Town series?
I was driving past De Waal Park one late Sunday afternoon and the light was so beautiful – so, as I went past the gate I decided to pull over and take a picture of it. I thought it would be a lovely thing to draw. I drew it in pencil, which is quite different to my usual style and medium. I really enjoyed working with pencil as a medium again and then decided to take a pic of another iconic spot and give it a go. The series wasn’t planned and sort of took shape by itself. Before I knew it I had compiled a list of places, and I’d love to have a little exhibition towards the end of the year and potentially bringing out little coffee table books too. Who knows?
How did you choose your spaces?
The first few were just places I found iconic, then I started asking my audience to suggest places, and I now have a whole long list to work through this year. It has made me feel so grateful to live here. We haven’t been able to experience most of these places in the lockdown and so many of them were taken for granted before the pandemic. So it’s lovely reminiscing and realising how much beauty we have here in Cape Town.
Do you have a particular favourite?
So far, the Labia.
What do you love about Cape Town architecture?
I love the variety and diversity. I love that so many of the buildings still have that old Cape Dutch style, and that they have kept the old style in so many buildings. I love the Art Deco buildings in Vredehoek and Sea Point too.
What is the process behind your illustrations?
For these, it’s scouting spots, taking pics and composing a nice portrait. Then to my iPad! Some of them take super long, so I really get zoned in and usually put some music on.
How do you decide on the background colour?
I usually take inspiration from the colour of the building, or pick up tones from the photos I take.
What did you do during lockdown to keep busy?
Lockdown felt like a nightmare. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without art. I bought myself an iPad last year after wanting one for so many years and it has honestly changed my life. It’s a huge investment, but I can’t remember what I did with my life before I had one. Probably why no one hears from me or sees me any more either! I’m dating my iPad now and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
What are your future plans?
My future plans are to be happy and to explore new and different mediums. To branch out as much as I can and to pour myself into as many projects as I can. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a good start to the year and have some exciting new things coming up, so onwards and upwards.
How can people get hold of your prints?
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org , my IG handle is @xee_summer so a DM also works. I have a website but I need to update it with all my new prints. I also do commissions on request, and any of my work on my Instagram feed can be printed.
Follow @xee_summer on Instagram to keep up to date with her latest work.