A Valentine's Edition: Musing on Sensuality with Sarah Jayne Kavali

A Valentine's Edition: Musing on Sensuality with Sarah Jayne Kavali

Musing on Sensuality is a series where we sit down with people who inspire sensuality, and talk about how they cultivate it in their life and work. We hope this series to be a source of inspiration for readers to help cultivate their own daily sensuality.

"I met Sarah at the Auckland Showroom in 2023, after having been introduced by a mutual friend. I was immediately struck by her enormous energy, warmth and literal brilliance - someone I wanted to know more about. When thinking about Valentine's and sensuality this year, I thought of Sarah. I hope you enjoy our conversation - have a read then head over to our Instagram account to see SJK's full video." - Maxine

Sweet Sarah!

Thank you so much for stepping into the spotlight of our Musing on Sensuality Series - Valentine’s Edition.

So, to set the scene, please introduce yourself: who are you, where are you based, and how do you spend your time?

I am a multidisciplinary artist.

After years of many moves and many apartments, all of which I’ve loved for so many different reasons, my current home lies in Saint Mary's Bay, Auckland. It’s drowning in 1980’s vibes, asymmetrical shapes, soaring ceilings, curved walls sitting within a tropical garden. The living area, with a sloping roof, has a sense of dynamism and movement, and the interior, as a whole, is characterised by a series of interconnected spaces that flow into one another, creating a sense of flexibility and freedom. It’s kind of odd really, but I’ve grown to relish in it. Space is so important to me, in many ways it’s simply another canvas to create on and within.

At the moment, much of my time is spent here, I’m just emerging from a slow January, from the quiet before launching into the year. A mix of coffee, contemplation, conversation, planning, preparation and tequila on ice. This combination makes me really happy.

SJK paints in bodysuit

What does sensuality mean to you? What does it feel like to you? Is it something you engage with everyday?

Sensuality feels like bathing, red lipstick, dousing in perfume and dressing and coffee. And yes, it is most definitely something I indulge in every day.

It also feels like buying the lingerie and wearing it. Don’t wait for that ‘special’ occasion, lingerie is there to be worn by you, for you, on any given day.

woman reclines

Has your approach to it changed over time, such as, as you have got older, or navigated personal challenges, through your creative work?

Most definitely.

Firstly, simply understanding sensuality and what it is. When talking about sensuality most people automatically think of sexuality, yet sexuality is but a small fragment of sensual life.

Understanding the art of sensuality has been profound for me, it’s changed my approach to life, and discovering this has been to discover the magic which arises when sensibility, strength, desire, fascination and energy are combined.

Do you have any particular practices that you like to lean into to help cultivate sensuality?

For me it starts with red lipstick, Chanel Rouge 176 Indépendante. Call it trivial but a good dose of red lipstick paired with, well frankly anything or nothing - is my go to.

To me, creativity is sensual by virtue of vision, focus and execution, something I see you do with such power in your work - how do you find that sensuality intermingles with your creative process?

Divine, you are - kind words! I couldn’t agree more, creativity and sensuality both involve passion, vitality, and intensity. When I engage in anything creative, I will often experience a state of flow, where I am fully focused and deeply connected to what I’m doing, this in itself is sensual.


woman with paint wearing lingerie

What format or method allows you to connect with your sensuality the most in your work?

Being that my practice is very multidisciplinary where I am experimental with all media and forms, it’s hard to pinpoint a format or method that provides the strongest connection to my sensuality…but there is something about the freedom that comes from standing on a fresh canvas, dipping my hands in a bucket of paint and throwing them across the surface…


woman with paint and piano in thebackground

We’ve spoken a little about how we interact with Valentine’s Day and how we can bring it closer to ourselves personally - how do you engage with Valentine’s Day usually?

I’m either all in or all out.

Many of us say that we don’t care about the occasion; do you resist it? Or do you embrace it? Why?

In years gone by, I’ve certainly relished in turning away from the noise of Valentine’s. But now, there’s no resistance, hell I’m here for it.

close up of woman's hip

How do you relate to it - is it a ‘you’ thing, a ‘you + your friends thing’, or ‘you + your partner thing’?

Romance is absolutely not dead in my life. It’s generously given, daily, and embraced wholeheartedly. My partner and I are both hopeless romantics and excessive in our expression. On Valentine's day we’ll just ramp it up, because why not.

How would you suggest someone could weave a little more sensuality into the day?

Buy the red lipstick, and wear it. And look, I made mention of this earlier, but let me stress the point, buy the lingerie and wear it - don’t save it for a night out, put it on, for any given day.


woman with art

Do you have a most memorable Valentine’s Day?

Yes, and those details I’ll be keeping to myself…

Will you make a plan for it this year? If so, what are you thinking?

It’ll be last minute, spontaneous, but romantic. Perhaps a spot of dinner at Roses Dining Room? Naturally, a piece of Underlena will make an appearance.

And - if you had 5 words to describe Valentine’s Day, what would they be?

Lace, Curls, Fries, Lipstick, Tequila and a while it’s not a single word, I’ll leave you with a little extra - start the day with coffee in bed.

I have to agree with you, particularly on the coffee in bed. Thank you SJK, for taking the time to speak with me. You are an inspiration, truly. 

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