Before the residency, LEO was both living in Berlin and London, two cities he moved between for the last 9 3/4 years. LEO’s art practice, as described by the artist, “is installation based and employs a diverse range of media, including; video, photography, text, sculpture, textiles, light and projection; it is often the ideas, situations, locations I am working with that suggest the materials and approaches I take to these, rather than working with a particular media or style. The initial brief I’ve set myself for VARC is one concerned with public and environmental art, to both research and develop works in relation to this and the particular location of Tarset.”
Having spent time with local dry stone wallers and exploring designs and techniques through constructing small models, LEO has completed a major artwork in the form of a dry stone wall that incorporates the message ‘BE CURIOUS’. The idea for the text came from a speech written by Stephen Hawking to mark his 70th birthday and reported in the Guardian newspaper January 2012.
LEO’s other major artwork has been the audio-visual installation piece ‘Rumplestiltskin’ which, for the artist’s exhibition, has been on display in one of the outbuildings at Highgreen. This piece continues LEO’s interest in text, narrative, fairytale and news information. Four mobile light projections are used to explore the four characters found in the original translations of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale. The accompanying narration of text and verse is by local residents.
LEO’s residency exhibition was held July-August. However the ‘Be Curious’ wall can be visited anytime. Contact VARC for location details.
Work in the Community
LEO welcomed over 40 people to his first Open Studio events in November. He was able to meet and talk to local people and a number from further afield about his work and about what he is hoping to develop during his residency. In January, prompted by comments from a Highgreen resident, VARC hosted an illustrated talk and discussion in Tarset Village Hall; ‘Contemporary Art: Why?… Why not?’ Ilaria Longhi from BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art talked about the Turner Prize artists past and present and LEO talked about his own work. The evening was attended by about 30 people. It was a lively evening with lots of questions, comments and discussion. LEO has led two series of workshops in Night Photography and in making Art in the Environment. These workshops culminated in an exhibition day in May (see Past Workshops page).The artist also spent a couple of days at West Woodburn First School leading pupils in a workshop to create their own Olympic Board Games. Early in spring LEO gave an illustrated talk to members of the Art Group at CRISIS Skylight Centre in Newcastle. And in May a group of members from the Centre visited Highgreen. They saw LEO’s just completed ‘Curious Wall’, enjoyed the walk from the wall back to Highgreen and spent the afternoon drawing. In May LEO led arts activity days, with assistance from artists Karen Rann and Julia Barton for groups of students with autism spectrum disorders from Thomas Bewick School in Newcastle and Thornhill Park School in Sunderland. See the Schools Projects pages for images and details of these days.