Currently exhibiting at Darl-e and the Bear gallery in Woodstock. www.darleandthebear.co.uk
After my twin and I were born our mother’s illness, rheumatoid arthritis returned with a vengeance. As a consequence, we were both sent to a nursery school from a very young age. A vivid memory from that time is being left to play with a tea trolly that was layered with newspaper and splashed with finger paints. I still remember drawing lines through the blue paint to this day and being so very happy.
The smell of the paint still had me hooked in the schoolroom and beyond to a brilliant foundation course in Bedford. This started my journey through the world of art and artists.
In all, I spent seven years in art schools and loved it, at a time when the freedom of non modulated teaching meant you could take time to explore and investigate everything. Not just the ‘correct’ way. This meant the world of ‘seeing’ and the understanding of perception became as innate as being able to read. Similar to the way you can drive a familiar route and not remember any part of the journey on the way. It becomes a part of you.
Married and with a family that needed my attention my husband gracefully took the reins and I went to do a BA at Middlesex University. As a mature student I took on working in the art history department 2 days a week to make ends meet and an evening job at the RSPB. I knew I had compromised the family and was determined to do my best and left with a 1st class honours degree.
Having placed a small glass ring sculptural piece in a box destined for a competition in the glass museum in Stourbridge, I won a prize. As a result of this, I was advised to apply to the Royal College of Art but at that time I had just set up my own gallery ‘The Square Gallery’ in Bedfordshire and had just started teaching on my original foundation course. But there was really no choice and 2 years later I was looking over at the Royal Albert Hall from small (if messy) desk on the 2nd floor… no pressure! The glass ring piece, that behaved like fabric, had once again opened doors for me.
Graduation saw exhibitions in London and beyond.
But for me, this was not sustainable. The soaring cost of hot glass workshops and studio meant I would be placing too great a financial weight on the family.
By this time we had moved to Oxfordshire and settled the children into their new schools. Meeting new people at the school gates meant I met my future business partner in a yarn shop and teaching facility for the next 7 years.
It felt like I had left the art world and immersed myself in the crafts. But all I had actually done was swapped mediums. It is my belief that art and craft are interconnected and I was lucky enough to play as if I was back at the tea trolly enjoying the rhythms, colours, and textures again. This time with textiles.
Out of this time came a new technique ‘painting with threads’, that takes me into the Cotswold countryside and beyond. A stark change from the flat landscapes of Bedfordshire. It is a technique I find bursting with potential and magical discovery. I can celebrate the changing seasons and the power and majesty of the sea. Perceived images appear from threads of cotton, wool, silk, silver and gold, sunsets over the water, woodlands at dusk, hillsides and rolling seas. This technique is informative and creatively challenging, bringing together all the years of learning and study. It encourages the eye to see beyond each line to a surface or landscape our own imagination puts together. The lines suggest and the mind continues to see the familiar within them.
Today working with this method has bought much acclaim and I now have dedicated collectors :
“I have been a fan of Lesley’s abstract work for a long time – both her early glass work and her more recent textile landscapes and I am delighted to own my own collection of her most recent pieces. It is amazing that she can create such perspective, almost 3D, from lengths of yarn.
Lesley’s use of colour and texture is sublime and I look forward to seeing where her creativity takes her next”
Sotheby's, New York
Scremini Gallery, Paris
Glass Museum, Dusseldorf.
Scottish National Museum
Crafts Council, London
Victoria and Albert Museum, Contemporary Section, London
Design Museum, London
Stourbridge Glass Museum award