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  Angela LEECH

Angela Leech CV (PDF)

Angela LEECH
Head Alterations and 1956 Horsepower
15 July to 8 August 2009

The work in this exhibition, consisting of sculptures and collages, are an example of Ange’s interests as an artist and maker. Her work in part deals with the elements of crossover between various media and ways of exploring aesthetics. Her variety and range of what she has made and is making suggest a freshness and openness to the possibilities which she sees before her. Ange is yet to commit herself to one particular medium – yet, there seems little need to do so. She is clearly committed to using different media and materials and to using them well. In each of her works she sees what she wants to make and executes it in an exact an unfussy manner. Her clarity of aesthetic expression provides for easy consumption on behalf of the viewer.

As part of Ange’s submission for a travelling scholarship for artists she has submitted two examples of her video works. Both are partly removed from the concerns of her current exhibition. Yet, the works through her alterations of heads provides a link with 1956 Horsepower. The first video shows a naked woman – wearing a mask shaped as a pig’s head – hopping into a bath filled with food from Hungry Jacks and McDonald’s. This material was collected over a week or so, with Ange visiting the fast food outlets and collecting their leftovers: that which they couldn’t legally sell. The woman in the plastic pig head bathes herself in a sludge of fries, burgers and buns. She applies the material to her skin in a mock act of maintaining her personal hygiene.

The second video is set around the streets of the State Library and the RMIT sculpture department – where Ange completed her honors at the end of 2008. The camera follows several of her friends as they walk towards the venerable and popular State Library. The figures carry long white masks, which they wear once at the lawns and steps in front of the library. The camera shows the masked figures walking slowly amongst the would-be library users. This performance in the streetscape of Melbourne is less orchestrated than the pig-bath-junk food act, yet poses questions of how performance takes place in public space. Some pedestrians and library users stop briefly, while others mostly keep on doing their business. These pedestrians, indifferent as they are, remain a vital part of the scenes in the video work.

1956 Horsepower is a further exploration of Ange’s interest in heads and the human form. Her exhibition of collages at the RMIT graduate exhibition consisted of a series of collages with various machine parts placed over a photocopied self-portrait. These works are a result of an ongoing process well documented in Ange’s notebooks. Some of the pages of the notebooks appear as complete works, others merely indicative of the process she is working through to arrive at more complete and clarified statements of the aesthetics of movement, the human body and the dialogue between ‘human-body as machine’ and ‘machine as a body’.

This exhibition also offers one of the gallery directors an opportunity for nostalgia – for he attended the Olympics in Melbourne in 1956. Over the period of fifty years, he has moved from observer of a sporting event, to facilitating a space where artists can provide their own commentary on the aesthetics of the body, sport and machinery. From this we can see a degree of generational change: what he enjoyed as a spectator has now become a historical document for a younger artist to use as a point of departure for aesthetic exploration. We can also consider the ideal of ‘the amateur’ as espoused by the Olympics. On the one hand, space for the amateur continues to diminish. Experts with their fancy titles and jealously held access to knowledge are increasingly dominant. Yet on the other, the presence of the amateur thrives through the seemingly endless possibilities available on the internet. In the work of Ange Leech, we see an artist who cares little for her possibly privileged position. Despite the complexity of the processes involved in her making, Ange’s work remains accessible and easily consumed. Ange’s flexibility of expression relates well to the ideal of the amateur who is capable of performing numerous roles, without being tied to one role in particular. An amateur, and amateurism, is less about the quality of work performed, but more to do with ideal of detachment and flexibility.

Charlie Strasse
Jakarta, June 2009

Angela Leech 2011 Exhibition
Angela Leech Previous Work