Maggie Leaver on social commentary as art…

Maggie Leaver uses contemporary approaches and experimental methods in mostly watercolour and oils. Her work is inspired by the beauty of natural forms and colours, and the political issues of the day.

ART BLOG asked her more about her work…

What made you start turning to social comment as a source of inspiration?

I guess I have had empathy for those on the margins – people and children who are excluded from society in some way – since I was very young.

As circumstance did not allow me to pursue a career in art when I was younger I pursued one in health and social services and a degree in Social Sciences. Many of my later career was working to support people who were disadvantaged in one way or another. I also had quite a selection of personal issues I had and was dealing with.

Having the opportunity to pursue my dream in developing as an artist,  things fell in to place with the help of Helen Tarr, my tutor who is now more a mentor.

I had many, many ideas for work and she helped me hone it down to key areas… of which social comment, or what I prefer to call ‘human story’ was one.

Find contemporary paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, printmaking, textiles and more at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham

I find working on the human story paintings difficult and challenging, as I seem to have to live through the experience to produce work I am happy with.  

However, I also find it profoundly satisfying to be able to develop work that could possibly make a difference and having the freedom to act and to pursue powerful issues without political restraint is amazing to me.

How does nature inform your art?

I notice colours and light first. Often this is on walks with my dog in Birmingham, but also in the garden, on holiday – anywhere really.

I am very affected by colours and light, and nature is hard to beat in inspiring new work. I never cease to be amazed at how it produces such beauty again and again – a constant source of ideas my paintings. I value too how uplifting it is to see something of beauty, particularly in these depressing times!

Who are your main influences?

There are so many, and in terms of artists,  they range from Cezanne to Banksy!

Current favourites include:

Walter Sickert, Monet, Kathy Kolwitz, Joan Eardley, Shirley Trevena, Ann Blockley, Francis Bacon, Marlene Dumas, John Keane, Grayson Perry, Howard Hodgson, Gerhard Richter,  Hokasai

and many more I just haven’t brought to mind!

Helen Tarr, my tutor at MAC has been a key influence in the development of my work. I remember my initial conversations with her where she teased out what it was that I particularly wanted to do. It is really down to her guidance that I found my way.

How has being a friend of the RBSA enhanced your practice?

Being a friend of the RBSA has been very helpful for my development as an artist .

The annual Friends exhibition allows the opportunity for possible exhibiting and is a spur to get works finished and framed. Then there are demonstrations, talks and workshops and countless opportunities to connect with other like-minded developing and more established artists.

My good friend Wendy Hurst must also be mentioned here. She encouraged me greatly and believed in my abilities to the point of opening up a number of opportunities for me to exhibit and promote my work. She sadly died earlier this year – very unexpectedly and is greatly missed by many people.

Hall Green Art, Birmingham Urban Sketchers and MAC and Cannon Hill Art School colleagues have all also been hugely supportive.

Join us!

The RBSA Gallery is the perfect platform for artists at all stages of their career, and many Friends progress to become Associates and Members, as well as Council Members with a say in the Society’s future.

Check out our forthcoming Friends events to see how you could benefit. There’s a host of discounts, private views, talks and events through the year…

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