title Arts
publication The Nelson Mail
description Article by Angela Moriarty
date 06:11:2002

As class spokeswoman and a previous Toss Woollaston Art Scholarship recipient, Leary is well qualified to comment on whether one can study to be an artist. "I think people have artistic ability but art school allows you to develop it within a really supportive environment," she says.

Leary, who says the fact that NMIT was offering a degree was a "deciding factor" in her move back to her home town after overseas travel, maintains studying "clarifies where you sit in the art world and where you feel comfortable". "You get to focus on being an artist. When I was going on the electoral roll I wrote my occupation as 'artist' - that's what art school has enabled me to do. It's becoming what I do and that's a nice feeling."

Leary's latest acrylics and oils on canvas are blazes of red that explore the notions of internal and external communication. Through her process work she has developed her own symbolic language to use in the "emotional-based" series. "I started working with reference symbols but found they were too literal and too loaded and a wanted a more personal means of communication so that's when I started to form a symbol language of my own." That way she can tell a story in a way other than through colour and form but still leave interpretation to the viewer, she says.

After graduating, Leary plans to be based in Nelson, painting, working on contacts with galleries and she hopes to hold a solo exhibition. "I don't think there's ever been a better time to be an artist. There's a real momentum in the arts at the moment."