Leonie Barton – Artist – An Audience of One

Leonie Barton subjected her body to such strenuous demands required to create her celebrated ephemeral installations - over the course of many years - she has been forced by physical necessity to leave the comfort of the known to introduce her new work " An Audience of One"

We met for a chat at Sydney Road Gallery in Seaforth a few days before the opening.

This is Part 1 very much about where this work came from. There will be another post about how Leonie fought her way back to this place.

It's a very inspiring story ...

" I started my working life in film production .... my husband is a film editor so when we decided to have children one of us had to relinquish their role. I had always drawn .... maybe it was a refuge. I enjoyed and wanted to continue to do that. Going to Art School was not a possibility so I just did it.

I thought that art would be more available to me if I opened an Art Supply store, but I had to stop painting to run my shop six days a week. I sold my shop.

I travelled to a third world country .... it gave me some clear air to think .... was I being indulgent worrying about what people would think if I dared to put my art out into the world. I came back and took the leap and decided to do it any way. I decided to try and get work that was creatively related to my art practice, I would say yes to everything for a year and because of that, I started painting backgrounds for the Photographer Anne Geddes. It was a great experience, taught me lots. But the work still wasn't me.

Things happened in life that forced me to look at things in a different way. At that time I was struggling with my drawing .... I came across another artist who was doing a project on the ephemeral and I thought that would be a good daily discipline for me. I am a control freak so this was good for me. I couldn't control what I found or make it perfect, which was liberating, I could do it, walk away and it would disintergrate fall apart and I didn't have to get attached to it.

I had to be accountable to that discipline though, so I started posting on social media. People started looking and wanting to buy the photographs. A group of walkers wanted to go and find the art everyday .... they would send me messages, asking are you going ... you're late ... where are you going .. it was hilarious and great. I would do this work everywhere, Shanghai, the Sahara Dessert..... I started exhibiting .... I built my whole practice around this medium. I loved the discipline.

Life took another turn that made it impossible, physically, do that work. But I needed to do something creative so I had to figure out what that was going to be. Because at this time in my life I couldn't sit for more than two hours at a time and then go and sleep for a few hours so I had to find something that would work within those parameters.

I got pretty hung up about it, which is stupid because it is such a privilege to paint. So I went to the studio and just painted whatever came out..for the sake of holding a tool in my hand and I released all of the expectation to the outcome and what anyone would think about the work and this is what came out.

Why the title " An Audience of One " ?

Because I painted it for me, I just turned up at the  studio to paint, to see what came .... it was a mission just going to the studio ... its only twenty steps but it was big mission. I dropped all thoughts of others expectations, I got out of my own way and just went up to the studio and enjoyed it.

Sydney Road Gallery 

561 - 563 Sydney Road, Seaforth



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