BANK Highlighted Artist #1: Pauline Leitch

The first Highlighted Artist for BANK, Pauline Leitch is a visual artist and storyteller based in Liversedge. Pauline’s journey to becoming an artist has been full of twists and turns – and inspiring for anyone who wants to harness their creativity.

You can see a full gallery of Pauline’s work here.

24th June 2020

You might recognise Pauline from Brigantia, Creative Scene’s creative space in the heart of Dewsbury town centre, where she ran creative workshops on personal branding for artists 2019 – and if you’ve ever seen our Arts Adventurers out and about in their brilliant hoodies, Pauline designed those too! Pauline is also the new Co-Event Director at Dewsbury parkrun.

You can follow Pauline’s art adventurers on Instagram and Twitter at @createbypauline and keep up with her storytelling at www.100secondstomidnight.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Hi Pauline. We’re thrilled to have you as our first Highlighted Artist for BANK. Can you tell us about the artwork you make?

I would say that I am a visual artist and storyteller. With all my work, the impetus behind my creative practice is to make people stop and think. I am seeking to evoke a sense of belonging by being present in the moment and to continually question the impact we are having on the world around us.

As a visual artist, my process usually begins with a photograph – most often taken using the camera on my phone. I’m not looking to take the best quality or ‘perfect’ photo, but instead, I am driven by a desire to capture an ‘in the moment’ picture of something that has caught my eye: an unusual texture; the way the light is falling on something; the secrets of the inside of a flower; the beauty in old stone or brickwork. I like to take photographs that have been taken at a different angle or close up, that draw the viewer in so that momentarily they are caught up in that same moment too.

I, then, use these photographs as inspiration for mixed media, design or dying and printing fabric. These works tend to be more abstract, as at this point in the process I am more interested in conveying a sense of how they made me feel.

As a storyteller, I am involved with both telling my own story through my blog, or working with clients to help them tell theirs – either directly through design work with them, or workshops on developing personal brand identity.

 

How Pauline uses photography to inspire other creative work. Credit Pauline Leitch.

 

You’ve had a fascinating path to becoming an artist – which you illustrated in this map (below). Can you tell us about your journey to becoming an artist?

It has been a very curious route, full of false starts and fragmented bits and pieces, but finally, I am beginning to feel that it is all coming together and I am starting to find a platform for my creative expression.

Having graduated in 1991 with a degree in Marketing, and after a few jobs that mainly centred on communication, I took an extended break to raise my sons. In 2017, I began a yearlong project to take a photograph every day and post the results on Instagram. What started out as a little project to look for beauty, soon led to a mindfulness practice where the more I looked, the more I began to see. My desire to take these images and ultimately end up with fabric led me to study an online course in Surface Pattern Design.

I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Creative Scene at the beginning of 2019 and over the past year have designed the new T-shirts and hoodies for their team of Arts Adventurers, and started working with creatives at Brigantia to help them develop their own personal brand identities.

In January this year, I began writing my new blog on my observations of life, having previously written one over two years whilst training for the London Marathon.

 

Pauline's map of creativity.
Pauline’s map of her creative journey. Credit Pauline Leitch

 

Whereabouts in North Kirklees are you based and does it have an impact on your work?

I live in Liversedge, but spend a lot of time outdoors walking my dog at Oakwell Hall or running around Roberttown and Hartshead.

Absolutely, the area has an impact on my work! I am so fortunate to be able to get outside and up close with nature on a daily basis. To live with an appreciation of the seasons and watch nature’s response is both inspiring and grounding.

 

We’ve all been grappling with COVID-19 and lockdown – has this impacted on the way you work?

Yes! The workshops that I had been commissioned to run for Creative Scene have been postponed and for many weeks I was unable to get to Oakwell for my daily walk. Thankfully a challenge set by my running club (Dewsbury Road Runners) combined my two favourite hobbies, and many new paths were discovered in search of photographic opportunities.

We were required to find and photograph specific things each day, culminating in seven yellow, seven red, and seven black objects (yellow, red and black being the club colours). This forced me to think more latterly than I’m used to and was great creative (and physical) exercise during lockdown.

It has also given me more time to sew and I’ve made some dresses, some of which have been years in the planning!

 

What are you looking forward to and where might we next see your work?

Prior to lockdown, I had enjoyed working with a fantastic group of people at Brigantia and was really excited by the opportunity to take this further. Obviously, I have no idea when this will be possible or even if it is something that will work when we finally reach the long-awaited ‘new normal’, but I have my fingers crossed!

The virtual world has been a godsend over the past few weeks, but I like texture and touch and things that are actually tangible! It would be so nice to be working on something that would actually be seen in person and not through a screen.

In the meantime, it is my aim to publish a new blog post every Friday, and I’ll keep the images coming on Instagram.

 

And finally, if people want to follow your example and harness their creativity, what would be your top tips on how to get started?

I’d say that firstly, you don’t need special equipment to get creative! All these photographs here were taken using the camera on my phone. Out of personal preference, I like to take square photographs but this is entirely up to you. Secondly, start to think about what you’re looking at and how you can create maximum impact by making small changes.

My top tips would be:

  1. Get in close
    Crouch down to the object as you want to photograph or zoom in with your camera – flowers are even more beautiful on the inside!
  2. Look for textures
    Get into the habit of giving things a closer look, even if they don’t interest you at first: buildings, statues, walls, shadows, gates and railings.
  3. Think about your background.
    Sometimes less is more – but then again dense foliage can create an ideal background for your photograph. Play about with it, see what you like.

Happy snapping! I can’t wait to see how you get on – tag me in your photos on Instagram so I can have a look.

 

Examples of Pauline Leitch's work.
Examples of Pauline Leitch’s photography. Credit Pauline Leitch

 

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