This year award-winning painter, Leila Kleineidam will have a solo exhibition in the Mobil Room during the Haddo Arts Festival in October and here’s an opportunity to find out more about her sources of inspiration.

My first link with Haddo was two years ago when I was invited by Margaret Preston to take part in an outdoor art exhibition so I’m excited to return to Haddo after finishing my painting degree at Gray’s School of Art.

I’m exploring the myriad ways in which humans interact with the landscape. I am fascinated by the patterns we create through agriculture. There could be no better place than Haddo to develop this interest. The magnificent country park combines the cultivated aspects of beautiful terrace gardens, lime tree avenues and surrounding farmland with the wild landscape features like lakes, rivers, forests and wildlife.

My approach is to create ceramic models from my photographs of how humans modify the Scottish landscape in the Highlands and Cairngorms. Drawing the sculptures of mountains from above helps me construct the aerial view of the fictional landscapes in my oil paintings.

I also use satellite images of agriculture and admire the painstakingly coordinated effort it takes to minutely map, compartmentalise and work the land. I often question if our anthropocentric use of the land is leaving too little space for wildlife and species diversification. Rather than guilt-tripping viewers, I aim to raise awareness of these complex questions. My open-ended works are about the pleasure of patterns and being mindful of the world around me.

For this exhibition I also explore the human body in nature: Haddo country park offers so many ways for play and interaction, whether it is the massive felled tree trunk that waits to be climbed or the adventure play area. Free play appears to have positive effects on the brain and on our ability to learn.  I think it’s vital that not only children but adults, too, get the opportunity to play!

I am creating textile sculptures inspired by the plentiful opportunities at Haddo for play which I will also use as still life objects for a painting.  The sculptures invite you to play with them and they sit on the blurry border between toy design and fine art.

Exhibiting at Haddo two years ago gave me an exciting challenge and boosted my confidence as a young artist. It was great to be part of a team of more experienced curators and artists and to get an insight of the work of a country park ranger.

As we were exhibiting outdoors, I learned how to be considerate of the plants and animals whose space we were sharing. There is one idea that stuck with me since then which I still hope to realise some day: The ‘Haddo Hole experience’ which would involve colourful inverted sculptures that allow you to lie in the ground and experience the landscape from a worm’s perspective (think of laying in a bathtub that is embedded in the earth with your feet touching the grass surface).

Whilst I won’t be creating such sculptures this time, I am grateful that Haddo is a place to relax and become part of the landscape; I am in awe of even the smallest creatures and their perspective of the world has stayed with me.

Leila’s work can be seen at her website: https://leilakleineidamsite.wordpress.com/

and on Instagram: Leila_kleineidam_art

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