Anna Leyland is a contemporary New Zealand artist with a growing following across the country.
Anna creates giclee prints and metallic foil screen prints from original, hand-painted canvases with beautiful precision and composition. Her works celebrate the beauty of what she sees around her and the multiculturalism of Aotearoa, through captivating pattern and symbolism.
Art Bureau talk to artist Anna Leyland to find out more...
- Why and how did you start out making art?
I’ve always had a passion for being an artist - drawing, painting and creating daily from the age of 2 according to my mum! I’ve had major health issues all my life and in my childhood, my mum would give me different activities to keep me busy… this definitely fuelled my passion for creativity! I continued art right through school completing a Bachelor of Design Degree in Visual Communication at Unitec. And I continued painting, primarily oil portraits, alongside working as a freelance Graphic Designer.
After the birth of my son in 2006 I went back to study and became a Secondary School Design and Art Teacher. Then in 2011 - I guess you could call it an epiphany - where I made the (difficult!) decision to follow my heart, my passion and dream of being a full-time Artist.
- Describe your art style.
My design background has greatly influenced my style, and although many believe my works are digital illustrations; they are original, hand-painted canvases. I enjoy setting myself the challenge in such a technological age of creating something hands-on, visually impacting and geometrically technical using old-school methods of tape, rulers and hundreds of tiny measurements.
Handpainting my patterns also references the traditional method of creating Melanesian Tapa cloths; Fijian, Wallisian and Futunaan Tapa were all handpainted with beautiful, symmetrical intricacy.
My style is culturally diverse; I incorporate symbols and patterns from many different cultures which are directly influenced by the multicultural heritage of my son and I; Fijian, Wallisian, Futunaan, Scottish, Hungarian, English and Kiwi ;)
- Why do you create this kind of art?
I think any artist will tell you that creating is not a why it’s a how and when? ;) What I mean by that is I don’t really know why, I just know that I have to and when I’m not my energy is always completely off and I wonder what’s wrong with me… then I remember I have been spending too much time on the production and admin side of things rather than the actual creative process of designing my new works and physically painting them. In regards to why I create my particular style of Art? I always knew that if I wanted to make a ‘name’ for myself I would need to create a style that was unique to me and that’s when I started drawing upon what I l love most - my son, my friends, my family and all of the different cultures that we collectively represent in beautiful Aotearoa.
- How do you know when a work is finished?
As a (nightmarish) perfectionist ;) you could say it is finished when the painting is balanced with space and colour, every line is clean… and it is signed! ;) The time I spend designing my works can often be ten times greater than the actual physical part of painting; but the beauty in this is it’s all planned down to the cm/mm before I even start… I do sometimes change my mind with colour half way through or if I make a mistake then I sometimes allow that to redirect the original design on the canvas also… In the end, however I have to trust my intuition to know when it’s finished… as difficult as that can sometimes be!
- When you’re not creating art what do you enjoy doing?
Besides creating art, print production, teaching after school kids art classes, admin and being a water polo mum there isn’t much time left! Ha… but in my spare time I love to get outdoors with my son and our dog, and if it’s warm enough, dive in the ocean! I absolutely love being on, in or near the sea… And less often than I would like these days but if and when the occasion arises I love spending time with my friends and getting my dancing shoes on… As an avid music lover we are lucky to have so many amazing gigs come to Auckland these days so I do try to make the effort to get out of my office/art/studio/classroom/house when I can!