Leah Davis

Leah Davis
Less than a year after her studies at Gray’s School of Art, Pop Portrait artist Leah Davis brings her first post-graduation exhibition to the eyes of the public.

Doing her initial art studies in Inverness, Leah enrolled in her Masters in Fine Art with Gray’s during the pandemic and completed her studies from her home studio in Lossiemouth. Studying remotely would stifle some students, however Leah found the experience beneficial for her creative process.

“I think if I were to be at the start of my undergraduate studies, learning completely from home would have been a big shock to the system. But being through the undergrad process already and returning for my Maters came at the perfect time.

“I learned from my mistakes and knew exactly what I wanted to do. I just settled into my home studio and got to work.”

During that time in the studio, Leah was approached by Moray Arts Centre to run a summer school programme which evolved into a permanent position as Art Convenor. The role involved her wearing many hats to manage the venue on a daily basis, seeing her organise workshops, events and engaging with artists to arrange exhibitions. Soon the opportunity presented itself to switch sides and exhibit at the venue herself.

“You’ve just got to ask” she says, “I had an exhibition lined up at another gallery space but sadly they had to close due to rising costs so when the team at Moray Arts Centre asked what they could do to help, I asked if I could host it at the venue. And here we are!”

Her exhibition, ‘A Chip off the Old Pop’, is in collaboration with Pop Surrealist Michael Forbes – an artist who has not only been her mentor but a big influence in her creative make-up.

Painting of man with pink hair wearing stickers
Painting of two people wearing clown make-up

“Michael has been a favourite artist of mine for years and I’ve always looked up to him. I just love the use of bright colours and dream-like subjects. That’s what I love about surrealism, you can just create random stuff and make it weird.

“Our exhibition pulls our work together to celebrate self-expression and championing your authentic self. It’s been great to work with Michael on this and he’s given me so much freedom to create this collection. He was like ‘This is your show, I’m just the supporting artist - we can do what you want’ so it’s been a positive experience.

“What’s really exciting is that all of my works which feature have never been seen before and Michael’s pieces compliment the collection to help with the storytelling.

“The exhibition is all about life experiences and being your authentic self. Just be you at the end of the day. If you’re weird - embrace it!

“That’s been a huge backbone of my work and not holding back has really evolved my work. Do what you want to do rather than what you’re expected to – that’s something that’s easily done when you’re studying.”

Looking back on her journey up to opening the doors of her exhibition, Leah reflects that her path is “all down to hard work”.

“You just have to work hard or you’re not going to get to where you want to be. No opportunities just fall on your lap. That’s a big thing Michael taught me, you’ve got to find your opportunities and grab them when you can.

“Apply for everything and make lots of connections – it’s those connections that help find your opportunities. Rejection is inevitable but somethings aren’t meant to be and you can’t shy away from putting yourself out there.”

Leah’s exhibition runs from Saturday 8 to Sunday 30 April at Moray Art Centre in Forres.


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