Words by Smiley Team
Xavier Leopold rediscovered the power of art at the start of lockdown – and in two years, his art has not only inspired children, but raised more than £60,000 for charity.
In the depths of 2020, Xavier starting using art as a hobby – it became a powerful form of escapism and method for processing his emotions. “It really helped me channel my thoughts and energy,” says Xavier, “I really had an outlet to help me express myself.” That passion stemmed into an artistic career, and in October 2020 he launched his first solo exhibition at gallery@oxo at Oxo Tower Wharf.
Determined to use his newfound skills to empower his local community, Xavier founded Xavi Art Community, the charitable arm of his Xavi Art brand, which has – so far – raised £64,495 for Black Minds Matter, as well as running motivational and artistic workshops in schools.
“I really feel like our generation is only just understanding what wellbeing is,” Xavier tells Smiley News, “and for our next generation, it’s important to prepare them and provide opportunities – so if I can do my part, that’s good enough for me.”
Xavier decided to reach out to local primary schools to see if he could find a way to voluntarily educate, motivate and create with the children. “It led me to understand how creative and honest the children are,” he says, “it really opened my eyes.”
Throughout 2020, he ran workshops with children in primary schools and donated all the funds he got paid towards his fundraising campaign for Black Minds Matter. During these artistic workshops, he’d touch on wellbeing, such as asking what happiness means to them, figuring out what motivates them, and how to illustrate that. “I wanted to transfer what’s in their mind to create form to canvas on the paper," he says.
During this time, Xavier says anything he was paid for, he found a way to give it to charity. He originally had a target of raising £20,000 for Black Minds Matter, the charity that facilitates mental health therapy for individuals and families in the Black community. However he was over the moon when he raised more than three times that goal, of nearly £65,000.
After the initial success of his art community, Xavier decided to make something more permanent and decided to translate his work into a book called ‘Art for the Heart’ – a fill-in journal for children to help provide them with the tools they need to improve their mental wellbeing.
The book is distributed globally and runs alongside online workshops, too.
And he’s done all this while working full-time. “My art never feels like work,” he adds.
GET INVOLVED: Follow Xavier on Instagram to follow his journey and future workshops or fundraising work.
DONATE: You can support Black Minds Matter movement, providing therapy to those in need.