All about me......
Hello I’m Leigh,
I have always loved learning how to create things. As a child I was forever painting, drawing and making objects of ‘art’ so I guess it was inevitable that I’d eventually end up as an artist of some sort.
My creative education started with probably the best foundation art and design course in the world at Rugby Art College – three days a week for two years studying just about every medium available – pure bliss!
This led me to a Fine Product BA Hons at Coventry University specialising in ceramics and jewellery and later an MA at Plymouth College of Art.
I embarked on my masters intending to develop my practice as a maker. However, the universe had a very different plan for me!
Realising that Plymouth was woefully short of artist studio space and that this was forcing talented graduates to leave the city, fellow artist and best friend, Jennifer Jayarajah and I decided that we needed to do something to address this problem.
So, in 2010 we embarked on a dauntingly huge project to raise £4m and develop a Grade I listed building in Royal William Yard into a gallery, artist studios and specialist workshops.
It took five years of hard slog to raise the money and take the project through the construction phase but in July 2015 Ocean Studios was opened by Sir Nicholas Serota with an inaugural exhibition featuring work by Grayson Perry, Mary Kelly, Richard Deacon, Bill Woodrow, Gillian Wearing and Hew Locke.
However, corporate life did not feed my soul in the way that making art did so in 2017 I made the difficult decision to step out of corporate life, go back to my first love and become a full-time designer maker, specialising in ceramics.
I won’t pretend that the last year has been easy – quite the opposite in many ways! – but the swap from stilettos to dirty flip flops has overall been a positive one! The technical learning curve to regain my skills has been steep and often frustrating but I’m starting to be more confident in my skills.
I’ve learnt that being a successful maker isn’t simply a matter of ‘making a nice pot! There are so many other things to consider and the making process is quite scientific which is not something most artists, myself included, excel at! I think I will always find the moment when I am about to shut the door on a fully loaded kiln terrifying – the moment I press the ‘start’ button the destiny of my ‘clay babies’ is quite literally in the hands of the kiln God!
I have a ‘bijou’ riverside studio at the Flameworks Creative Arts Facility in Plymouth which I share with a rich and varied array of talented artists and makers. It’s really good to be part of a creative community. We not only share skills but also the triumphs and disasters of life as an artist.
I have recently starting teaching which I find very fulfilling and am currently developing a programme of individual and group courses so if you would like to hear more please sign up for my newsletter using the link below.
I smoke fire my work in my hand-built kiln in my garden adding seaweed and shells from local beaches, used coffee grounds and a variety of other weird and wonderful additions.
My smoke fired and naked porcelain work is sealed with Liquid Quartz making it food safe.
My work is influenced by my interest in surface, texture and form. In particular surfaces created by erosion, rust and fire. My work is further informed by my fascination with learning and process which is ‘both a curse and a blessing’ as I continuously have to stop myself from learning ‘just one more technique’!
Whether it is a tiny porcelain bowl, a set of bespoke dinner plates or a sculptural torso, no two pieces will ever be exactly the same.