Leah West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
My daughter constantly inspires me to create, play and relish the joy, the curiosity, the happy accident and the mess. I aspire to curate curious worlds of colour, whimsy and joy; crossing seamlessly between mediums (i.e. photography, textiles, print) and blending the vintage, the nostalgic, the folk and the fairytale.
To date, I’ve had five exciting years of collaborating with a wide range of wonderful artists, performance-makers and companies in Wales and beyond; collaboration has been at the heart of all these projects. To date, ’Performance’ has been an important catalyst through which to explore my visual arts practice, often in ways that were not visually-literal or obvious. My collaborative contributions emanate from a personal approach to camera-art, digital image-making/story-telling and collage, producing results that migrate between and across a company’s live performance, installations, documentaries and visual practice. A collector of cabinet's of curiosities’ is a good way of illustrating how I can engage as a visual artist, documenting process and performance. Each project could be said to produce its own box, or its own cabinet of curious artefacts and original artworks. Early photography provides much inspiration - from its photographic techniques and the phantasmagorical and painterly languages attributed to them, both during its own time (ie Spirit photography) and retrospectively. My interest in historical photographic techniques has led me to collect old traditional cameras and lenses, as well as toy cameras and super-8s, with which I explore layered-effects via Adobe photoshop.
The lived experience of becoming ‘Mum’; a journey interlaced with treasures: treasures that dare to dream, embody a kinaesthetic awareness and attitude of discernment, and a deepening Mystery and awakening of Spirit, has inspired new directions in art practice and follows my families relocation to West Yorkshire from Cardiff, South Wales.
I have been making papier-mâché forms and dolls, making necklaces, art journals - splashing paint, ripping, stitching, dripping, scribbling. I have taken workshops in Clowning and Storytelling and after a 10 - 12 year absence to study and work as a freelance visual artist, I have returned to a movement and dance practice.
This type of making is radically different to my practise to date, having formerly created bodies of work that were primarily lens-based. It brings a new (for me) creative-bravery, trusting in the innate knowledge of my hands and inner child. What emerges is a very new, raw and tangible delight – and so much of life, since becoming mum (however embryonic and still in infancy) is a continuum of many such tangible delights!
At heart, I am a visual artist and I hope that my shared creations are filled with the zest and adventure of my experiences and learnings. At heart, it is becoming a Mother, and the presence of my daughter’s life and blossoming existence that constantly inspires urgent and beautiful ways to live, connect, create, play, challenge myself, and relish the joy, the curiosity, the happy accident and the mess, in and outside of the paintbox! Anything that I do, feel or desire stems from the need to to be the mother my daughter needs me to be Now, in this lifetime and the necessity to find alternative, meaningful inroads to healing, movement and growth. To be that person who brings about political and personal change, starting from myself. And it is a constant battle, a constant transitioning and constant practice.