Focus on...

What's it made of? Bronze and glass.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the piece? I was in Kurdish Iraq in a town called Arbil and I was told about their religion which involved a holy bird - the peacock. I've always liked that beautiful creature, so I played around with a lot of ideas for this sculpture. In the end I used these glass juicy fruits to represent the eyes in the feathers of the bird.

Where did you create the piece? I do all my sculpture in Moscow, though I live in Lewes. I had it transported here in a lorry, via Paris, where I have another studio - I'm an artist-in-residence in the Cite des Arts. The French are crazy about art, and they support it in a lot of different ways.

How long did it take to complete? About six months. Sculpture involves a lot of technical processes, which take a lot of time, like casting, and polishing.

What do you wear when you're working? A bikini. When I'm working I work in complete solitude and really become fully immersed in the activity. I want my body to become at one with the spirituality of the process: the smells, the textures, the form, the shapes. It's important not to wear any clothes.

What other artists have influenced this piece? None. I come from a poor background in Russia where I didn't learn a lot about art. When I won the Best Russian Sculptor award there in 2004, people kept saying "it looks like a Giacometti!" I kept asking myself 'who is this Giacometti?' I decided that the first thing I would do with my prize money was get a flight to Paris and find out. I like his stuff: it's very spiritual and deep. But it didn't influence my work. It all comes from within myself.

What's your favourite gallery? It's the same story with galleries. I haven't much experience of them. I'm too busy cooking, or making sculptures.

What picture would you hang from a desert island palm tree? A very minimalist calligraphic design. A single black line on a white background. Something simple which would give space to my imagination.

Svetlana's Feathers will be exhibited at Artists United, The Foundry, 9th-l 1th July

Interview by Alex Leith Viva Lewes, July 2010