Gillian Leigh is a young artist whose work in oils and pastels betrays a fascination with water, light and movement. The highly finished surfaces are the result of a careful process of application in which the artist works by applying the paint in layers, one on top of the other, allowing each to disturb the one below. Sometimes, she applies the next layer whilst the one before it is still wet, thus allowing the layers to blend. The way the paint will react cannot be predicted, but that only makes the results all the more exciting.
The colours Gillian uses are frequently drawn from the natural world: sea greens, sky blues, cloudy greys and fiery reds. Nature is not only the source of inspiration for the artist's colour palette, it is also the element that most obviously dictates the mood of the paintings, regardless of the formal approach that Gillian has chosen to adopt. Each canvas seems to ripple and pulse with life; forms undulate beneath the surface creating a sense of movement. Some of the 'Interference' and 'Spiral' canvases in particular evoke a distinctly aquatic atmosphere. The extremes between light and dark create an impression of depth; of waves rolling and swelling in a troubled sea, or bars of smoke, agitated by the wind.
In several of the canvases, soft, fluid lines drift across more rigid chequered backgrounds. This contrast between backdrop and surface pattern is emphasised by the shift from darkness into light. In 'Interference Wave II' in particular, the wavy lines that flow across the canvas radiate brightness, whilst the background is barely glimpsed beneath, almost hidden by the shadows that lurk around the paintings edges. Again, the effect is to create an impression of depth. Looking at this painting might stir up childhood fears about sharks biding there time at the bottom of the swimming pool. Or perhaps it reminds you of a ballroom or the trail left on a kitchen floor by a phosphorescent snail.
In fact, all Gillian's work invites multiple interpretations. Her use of pattern and light and colour, and the unpredictability of what their amalgamation will lead to - an outcome unknown even by the artist herself - transpire to render these paintings remarkably open to a range of individual subjective appreciations.
A London based artist, Gillian was trained in Fine Art at Wimbledon School of Art. She graduated in 1996 and the following year was awarded a prize at the Logos Third National Art Competition. She has had several solo exhibitions and been involved in many group collaborations throughout the capital.
To view Gillian's gallery please click here