Virginia Leonard

Red Bed

clay, lustre and resin
1100mm x 400mm x 400mm

Red Bed and Cream are Virginia Leonard's first foray into the outside elements. It was important to her that the works still contained the painterly aspect similar to her smaller scale works. Virginia states, "As the work gets larger and the construction becomes more important I find it is essential to retain the gestural nature within the work. Therefore the glaze, lustre and the resin becomes more loose and painterly. I am trying to create work that has the looseness of painting with the formality of ceramics. I intended the lustres, the gold and the silver to create tension in the work with the unexpected nature of these materials out in the bush".
Leonard's evocative ceramics are honest self-portraits that address her experiences of chronic pain and bodily scarring.
The artists says, "I have sought a voice for my own pain. These objects are my body". In 1986, Virginia had a serious motorbike accident in London. This terrible accident put Leonard in hospital for two years and "changed and formed" the artist, simultaneously  impacting on her in a positive and negative way.
Following a successful painting career in New Zealand, Leonard started working with clay in 2013. She says,"The transition grew from my need to address my bodily issues. Clay became more visceral and bodily. It was oozy and clumpy. It resembled my scarred and jaggered leg. It is also a precarious medium. You don't know if the work is going to survive the high temperatures of the kiln. This reminded me of the fragility of my body".
Leonard's original and innovative work in clay is driven by the tactile and material possibilities of clay for expressing and connecting with her body and chronic pain. Her most recent work involves stacking a number of pieces on top of one another. She refers to this technique as "building precarious towers resembling my human form, layering the work and stacking the work also references surgery and the ability to hide my bodily scarring. The more I assemble the more there is to look at which takes the viewers eyes away from the ugly bits".
Leonard is interested in pushing the clay and glazes beyond there limits, which is a very important part of her process. Pushing the work to within an inch of cracking, splitting or just about to collapse and hit breaking point.
Virginia studied a Masters of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design. Recent exhibitions include Installation Contemporary, Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, Carriageworks (2017) and Handbuilt Made in Clay, Two Rooms, Auckland (2016). Virginia was the invited artist in residence, Guldagergaard, Denmark (2017) and winner of a Merit Award, Portage Ceramic Awards, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland (2015).

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