Paul Leathers' artist statement


Artist's Statement


"I create artworks that, standing between artist and viewer, mediate personal experiences and interests in order to provide a forum within which the viewer is invited to access the marvelous. Often installation-based, these artworks—completed through the viewer’s movements within the exhibition space and the subsequent acquiring of multiple sightlines—explore the dynamic relationship that exists between viewer, viewpoint, and viewed.

What interests me about my studio practice is the ability to locate a sculptural form in close proximity to the body—to place an object within the personal boundaries of the viewer and have it be adopted as a social as well as a physical extension. In the words of Australian critic Kevin Murray, "While wearable objects may be isolated from the context of their use, use value is still an important factor in the life of objects that, by enlisting the viewer’s attention, may serve the same function as art."

My early work explored the experimental use of alternate materials and addressed such formal considerations as the use of colour and texture. Subject matter evolved from the direct observation and subsequent interpretation of the natural environment (Mysteries, common everywhere, 98), scientific processes (Natural Sines series), or recovered archeological fragments (Patina Pendant).

The body of work that I am currently exploring engages the viewer through his or her attraction and subsequent relocation relative to the objects on display. This leads to a personalised interaction with the pieces, whether through direct physical contact, as in the case of jewellery, or in a more distanced manner, as with sculptural objects. In both activating and being activated by these artworks, the viewer is connected to an experience of the material world that signals a rupture with normal linear existence. Informed by an interest in pre-Enlightenment collection and re(presentation) methods, current work often employs light and/or integrates anamorphic images, those that are legible only when viewed in an unconventional manner, to attract and locate the viewer and to engage the viewer's intellect through the activation of his or her sensory faculties.

I find psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan’s discussion of the relationship that exists between the viewer and that which is viewed inspiring. Lacan thinks of seeing as a reciprocal process: as the viewer looks at something it looks back and the gazes cross each other. He thinks of the whole scene as a trap wherein we are "caught, manipulated, captured in the field of vision." Recent work has explored the nature of this relationship, from the viewer’s initial attraction and seduction through to the establishment of an ongoing relationship with the object. Artworks such as Secret, anyone’s, is open, if waited for long enough, 90, captivate the viewer, allowing him or her to 'play' with the work through their physical relocation relative to its components.

Works made to commission, such as, usually develop in response to criteria set forth by the client’s material and emotional needs. Such works often result in the client’s education as to the many possibilities that exist for wearable art. I also enjoy the opportunity to work collaboratively with other artists and find that the process often leads to bodies of work that extend my own sense of what is possible. I am eager to engage with new materials and processes and to integrate them into my studio practice. Quoting Aristotle, "The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder."

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website imagery: © paul leathers 2004–2021, except as noted



Photo-documenting Your Artwork

Paul will be leading a workshop on photo-documenting two- and three-dimensional artworks for Red Deer Culture Services. For more information and to register for this course please contact...

Lost Wax Casting and
Gem Appreciation

Paul will be teaching ten-week evening courses on the technique of lost wax casting as well as gem appreciation for Red Deer Culture Services this year. For more information and to register for a course please contact...