During the Open Studio Tour Leigh’s work can be seen at: T.B.A.
Leigh Archibald is an award winning mixed media artist and printmaker. Her work examines the impact of cultures upon each other through the layering of images into pigmented wax, acrylic and ink media.
Strong ties to the land and its creatures inform all cultures but industrialization, technicalization and, most recently, virtualization have diluted this until it is almost invisible in modern urban environments. In aboriginal cultures alliances with animals, plants and ancestors continue to be understood as empowering, connecting people to the worlds of the cosmos and conferring the knowledge and powers necessary for healing, transforming and successful passage through life. The marks of hand-pulled printing, drawing, and photography express the strength and mystery of this connection and its potential for the reaffirmation of the human in urban settings. I use the juxtaposition of contradictory elements including colour to create visual tension drawing the viewer into the perceived struggle, while simultaneously providing resolution and relief.
My interest in human stories, in the interaction of cultures and the impact of advanced technologies on indigenous peoples is reflected in my work. I use the layering of images, colours and marks to represent the ephemerality of humanity in time. My encaustic work takes advantage of the transparent and reflective qualities of the wax and the stop time capacity of the camera to capture single moments underlaid by the layers of previous lives and interactions with the world. This is represented in various ways, an image of a single person, multiple images and symbols juxtaposed to highlight similarity in difference. Many of the paintings are accompanied by stories of how they were developed; the encounters behind the images.
In terms of technique I use a variety of media and found objects including sand, porcupine quills, rusted paper, newspaper, cloth and more. I often start with photographic images I have taken, work with and manipulate the images, transforming real into symbols, then embedding them in the encaustic surface. This is layered with pigmented and clear encaustic and other materials; scratched into, drawn and painted on to create a rich, textured environment referencing the multiplicity and disappearance of cultures as they are absorbed into the urban landscape.
As a printmaker I work using a variety of different processes including woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs, chine collé, relief printing and others. Often several different processes are involved in a single print.
A number of these pieces are based on my encounters with indigenous peoples in North America, Asia and Africa who so often find themselves battling a multitude of barriers – in Africa, disease, starvation, war and displacement; in North America poverty, illiteracy and cultural disenfranchisement. Perhaps the most difficult barrier faced by indigenous cultures and the most disempowering, is the barrier of social prejudice induced by colonization and maintained by the myths of the colonizing cultures. Most aboriginal societies form strong cultural ties to the natural world. Such ties are considered essential to living a successful life. Yet the indigenous peoples of North America, Asia and Africa struggle to retain pride in their heritage and traditions in a world where urbanization and technology have increasingly severed connections to the natural world. If the natural world is seen as having little value then so are those whose culture promotes that world.
I have been fortunate to work and travel in different areas of the globe as well as locally, where I photograph people and animals in their natural landscapes. These photographs are often incorporated into other art works but are also used as stand alone pieces. My most recent series focuses on the forms and colours created by Nature alone as well as birds and animals going about their regular lives.
The Hand Made Books
I am an avid reader and love to put together my two passions of art and reading. This has resulted in the creation of a number of different hand made “artist books”, several on commission. Each page is individually worked and the books are hand bound. Many of the commissioned books were created to celebrate the life of an individual or individuals, others to highlight a special event or place, memorialize a beloved pet or even respond to a problem. All commissioned books use photographs supplied by the originators and capitalize on the stories told by friends and family about the people, events, places, situations and animals involved. The book styles vary as do the writing styles. If you commission a book you can choose writing and book style from those offered.
The focus of the books is visual with the written sections acting as supports or links between the visual pieces.
Leigh Archibald studied Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal and continued her education in plastic arts with courses in Soranno, Italy, at the Ottawa School of Art, and master artist workshops.
Leigh’s work can be found in private collections in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Leigh has participated in juried group and solo shows in Canada and abroad. Some of the international shows include:
- “My Country is Winter”: Invitational Print Show, Festival of the Americas, Holguin, Cuba,
- IMPRESS: Juried Biennial International Printmaking Show, Stroud, UK
- “Year of the Dragon”: International Travelling Print Exhibition, Proof Studio Gallery, Toronto
- The Sketchbook Project 2012 Tour, Brooklyn NY (touring USA & Canada)