Born in Waitakere, of Scottish, Irish and Ngai Tahu descent, Leah has been painting for nearly three decades. Her style is influenced by some great New Zealand painters – most directly; Stanley Palmer, Seraphine Pick, Bob Kerr, Lawrence Berry & Garry Currin – and by the New Zealand landscape itself.
Her Naturalist Grandfather introduced her to the Waitakeres as a child. Through his passion for the native flora and fauna he taught her to appreciate and absorb the essence of a place. “I paint what I love to look at and be near – places that have left a deep imprint on me. I also feel an impulse to help people reconnect with nature – most of us find our lives increasingly removed from the land we live in.”
Leah has exhibited in several group and solo shows in NZ, is a regular exhibitor in a few local galleries and has works in private collections in New Zealand and a few overseas. She says “I try to paint my response to a place, rather than what I actually see. I can’t replicate or improve on nature – so I just salute it.”
Her subject is eclectic – big, loose landscapes or small finely detailed still life/botanical works.
“A lot of my still life work is from objects that have a history in my family or community – from the label on a maggi soup packet from the 70s to a plastic tiki from Air New Zealand and some long-nosed pliers that have been in use for most of the last century - even the set of bowls I fed my babies from. My overly sentimental side is expressed as I look to show the value and beauty in simple design and practicality – finding beauty in apparently mundane, frivolous treasures.”
“I am focussing on my surfaces as well – recycled timber, steel saw blades, antique sewing machines, silverware boxes – whatever has an aesthetic or nostalgic value and accommodating surface.”