Leonie Barton has certainly had an interesting couple of years. From her works in photography creating ephemeral installations. To breaking her back, forcing her to put down the camera and pick up a paint brush

We had a chat with Leonie about her Audience of One exhibition and what makes her tick..

What inspired An Audience of One?

An Audience of One came from an entirely intuitive process, to paint for the joy of painting. To have removed all expectations of outcome, to go to the studio with no preconceptions, no vision and to simply hold a tool or brush in my hand and see what would emerge, if I let all present and past self limitations fall away. I painted for myself, I am the audience of one.

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Can you explain the meaning behind some of your works?

They have no conceptual meaning. They are shapes, they are colours, they are taking the line for a walk across the canvas and filled in from there. In hindsight looking across the body of work today, I see commonalities between my old art practice and the new. The harmony and balance that was reflected strongly in the photography of the Ephemeral Installations, is again present. It must be how I see the world and how I need my world to be. Still and balanced. 

Why did you move from photography and sculpture to paint? Was there a defining moment?

Easiest question on the list !! haha.

Today is my 323rd day of recovery from three spinal operations performed within a fortnight of each other.

In the event of gathering materials to create 680+ ephemeral installations on the ground to photograph, (the first 365 of them on sequential days) the vertebrae in my lower back all collapsed and crushed the nerves to my left leg. I’m full of titanium rods and cages. After a long period of laying down and drugs. Followed by a lot of physio, I am doing really REALLY well. But the ephemeral (and for the time being the sculpture) has had to be put on hold for a little while.

Mind you I did go and complete a commission in April for Oatley Wines in Mudgee. Five Wine Labels for their Artist Series, featuring ephemerals created at the vineyard. My husband came and did ALL the bending. He has been my main carer – amazing man.

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What inspired you to become an artist?

I’m inspired by spending time out in nature and looking at the familiar in probably an unfamiliar way. If you are referring to people ? I tend to censor what I look at and am probably one of the least educated artists I know. Having said that I do have favourite artists. Clarice Beckett, Carol Crawford and Paul Bacon and all the artists at Sydney Road Gallery for their integrity and devotion.

What does an average day look like for you?

Wake up when I wake up, but usually between 5.30 and 6.00am. Pick up a coffee around the corner at my local and go and watch the sunrise. Rain hail or shine, 7 days a week. It became a habit whilst doing the ephemeral project and now that I am allowed to drive again, it continues.

Home for breakfast, shower, domestics and then I head to the studio at about 7.30. I try and get any admin out of the way at the beginning of the week, so I am free to paint. I always stop for lunch, which I have in the garden. Weather permitting. Then head back to the studio till late afternoon. If I have a deadline I will return to the studio after dinner till about 9.00pm. Like most artists I suppose I lead quite a hermitic life.

What does the next 5 years look like?

I would like to develop my painting practice further and to eventually include complimentary sculptures in the exhibitions, when I can return to it. I’m also really very eager to paint on a much larger scale. For the ephemeral, I had always hoped to continue to incorporate my love of travel and creating outside. The ephemeral installations have been photographed all over the world and of course the dream job was being commissioned to doing works site specific to a hotel location and have the artwork hang in the hotel foyer etc.

What are you listening to right now?

I listen to an extremely broad range of music, classical to current but no jazz. I love the podcast “Talking with Painters” and if the radio is on, it’s bound to be 2BL

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