Laura Leahy is a visual artist whose practice is mainly project based. Each project begins by using an object as a trigger for social and artistic exchange. The object is then articulated through the use of paint, video, photography and participatory events. In her latest project, An Account of Apples, which started in March 2014, Leahy used an apple as the trigger. The apple led to walking through an orchard, which continued on by leading to reflections on the rural contemporary landscape. The apple orchard being both pastoral and industrial prompted questions such as: Where does the pastoral end and the industrial begin? Is this divide culturally determined? How has the landscape shaped cultural identity?
These reflections triggered an exploration of other territories, such as cultural hybridity, the in-between, capturing liminal spaces, and defamiliarisation, in order to question how we see the landscape. Guided by a personal construct, based in the position of being a non-native, this experience is translated through representing what it is to be visually overexposed by considering the act of stepping out from a dark space into a bright space. For a brief time, the world is overexposed, putting one visually in that moment when one is between not seeing and seeing. Eventually vision settles and adjusts to the light, which is the translated experience of a non native adjusting to a new landscape. This kind of visual difficulty, ambiguity and change in awareness is utilised in this series of work to explore the aforementioned territories.
Continuing with peripatetic explorations of the in-between, the use of the diptych has been pertinent in depicting the duality of contemporary rural landscapes, where the pastoral and the industrial converge. In the context of the diptych, the bridge or threshold between the pastoral and the industrial becomes an external visual boundary for each image leaving the in-between space to be imagined. Pastoral and industrial images are visually explored simultaneously through this approach in order to question where the threshold lies.
This body of work illustrates the power of objects, in this case the apple, which triggered a wandering path through the contemporary rural landscape. Through these explorations, habits of perception have been questioned. Leahy looks to represent visually the experience of dislocation and to translate culturally inherited responses so that new connections and dialogues may be made.
copyright © Laura Leahy 2017 All rights reserved.