"art is sustenance"

"art is sustenance"

Sep 24, 2023Margot Zigmont

I am a scarf girl.  I got my early education in scarf style when I was 21 and went through chemo. I lost my hair and they covered my head. I sat in cold hospitals and they were a blanket I could wrap myself up into.  I embraced the accessory and haven’t looked back.  They’re like a beautiful security blanket that I can take out into public, a soft and lovely suit of armor.  For aesthetics and my emotional preparedness, a scarf is a necessity.

(early scarf style circa 2000)

To me, Sabina Savage makes the most wonderful scarves.  Every bit of them is a piece of art.  Her process is exhaustive, in which she delves deeply into art and history for inspiration, researching her subject thoroughly.  She couples this academic approach with her incredible imagination to create her own story, and then each design is hand drawn in exquisite detail.  Next she begins the process of production, as the scarves and apparel are made in Italy and England.  The result is wearable art.  I find it generous that Savage chooses to express her creativity in a way that allows us to carry it with ourselves in our daily lives.  


Sabina Savage the Wind Horse, silk wool, Madder


the Wind Horse in silk/wool


In Savage’s work I generally see a theme that speaks broadly to common human experiences.  Our first Sabina Savage collection at Tea & Oranges was the Treasures of Pompeii, and in Savage’s telling, the animals of Pompeii are working together to escape the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.  This collection came to us in the Fall of 2020 and felt eerily well-timed for the early months of the pandemic and the ways in which we had to work together to get through it all.  Now I always find something universally meaningful in Savage’s collections.  

I previewed our newest collection from Sabina Savage in late February when I was in the middle of an absolute mess in my personal life.  Beyond the stress of it all, it was very isolating.  Getting a cancer diagnosis at 21 was a cake walk compared to what we were going through.  We spent a long time feeling very alone, scared and facing a ton of uncertainty.   

Sabina Savage Song Deer 135cm silk storm/steel
the Song Deer in silk, 135cm

Savage had set up a pop-up in Soho and was previewing the collection there - and I walked into her beautiful, quiet and safe space in the midst of my chaos.  Sabina and Johanna went on to tell me about Tales of Tibet: the first king of Tibet falls from the sky and lands on the top Yarlha Shampo, the second largest of four snow mountains of Tibet.  The mountain deity takes the form of a mountain goat and finds the new king, who is peculiar looking and obviously extraordinary.  He calls to the far reaches of the Himalayas to let the world know that Tibet’s first king has arrived.  Three deities hear the call and rush to Yarlha Shampo to bring gifts to the new king.  The Wind Horse brings the gift of luck and good fortune, with a divine wish-granting jewel and a mongoose that expels jewels on its back.  The Snow Lion, with its intricate armour and healing milk, brings strength.  The Song Deer, with the soft music of cranes wings and a parasol that protects from harmful energy, brings serenity and harmony.  


Sabina Savage Snow Lion in silk/wool turquoise


the Snow Lion in silk/wool

My secret little thought as I took in this stunning collection was “Sabina made this collection just for me.”  I felt like all of these gifts, meant for the king of Tibet, would certainly do me some good on my lonely little journey. I made my selections for the store, and then said to myself that I’d take one of each.  I could use a healthy dose of serenity, inner strength, and I certainly wouldn’t turn away good fortune.  I left feeling less lonely, like I could keep going down this difficult path, knowing that Sabina Savage had my back.  

the Wind Horse in silk, 90cm

One of my favorite quotes as I think about all of this is “art’s not luxury, it’s sustenance.” No matter how overwhelming or enormous our emotions may be - and no matter how incredibly alone I may have felt those moments, art grounded me - and it brings us back to each other.  Creative expression connects us, creates a conversation, finds our common human experiences and it heals us.  


Sabina Savage Song Deer, silk/wool, coral/sage


the Song Deer in silk/wool

Savage, through her own appreciation of history, art and her magnificent imagination brings us her unique expression that is artful and universal  This story, which is in some way so specific, is really about and for all of us.  Because of this, I believe Savage’s work is not just practical and beautiful, but there is an emotionally sustaining quality to it.  There’s something in them that connects to me, I believe there is something that could connect deeply to you, and in that sense, it connects us to each other.


Sabina Savage Snow Lion 135cm silk fire/ice


the Snow Lion in silk, 135cm

On our website we do our best to describe the stories and intricacies of each design in Sabina’s collection, so excuse our brevity here.  Please check them out here on our website.  We always love to share these beautiful things with you in person. If possible, please stop by.

Also, Ethan Hawke’s TedTalk on human creativity has given me plenty of food for thought on this subject and I quote him in the title and above.  It also made me think about how we are each uniquely creative and what this adds to our communities.  I hope you will check out his thoughtful conversation on creativity here.

I don’t believe that one needs to own art to benefit from it.  Planting that seed is sustenance in itself, owning a scarf from Sabina Savage is a lovely luxury.  I did recently read about a fun book called the Art Thief by Michael Finkel, about a compulsive art thief who believed art was not fully appreciated unless one lived with it.  I don't agree completely, but it is lovely to surround ourselves with art.  Fun read, check it out, don’t steal art! 

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