A painting student from Germany has turned her hiking trips throughout the Scottish Highlands into the inspiration behind her final year degree show project.
Leila Kleineidam moved from Germany to Aberdeen to study at RGU’s Gray’s School of Art as she was ready for a new challenge and was eager to explore Scotland, its cities and nature.
The 24-year-old said her extensive walking of the Highlands led her to explore anthropogeomorphology, which is the impact of human activity on the natural landscape, for her final year project, which can be seen at this year’s Gray’s School of Art Degree Show.
“Having walked the Highland extensively, I became interested in how the land is managed. Deer hunting, grouse shooting, golfing, forestry, agriculture, energy production and mining all leave different marks on the landscape and impact ecological diversity,” she said.
“I am especially fascinated by the intricate patterns that muirburn and agriculture form, especially when viewed from space. I wonder if we have tipped the balance towards an exclusively anthropocentric use of land - what happens to the species of plants and animals to which the market assigns no exchange value? Will they simply be crowded out or can we create enough room for them to flourish?
“In my paintings I create invented landscapes, often viewed from an aerial perspective, taking inspiration from a large collection of different shapes and patterns I have observed and recorded over the last months during my hiking trips. My creative process often involves drawing and photographing objects I make out of clay and using them to construct my paintings.”
Leila said she chose Painting at Gray’s School of Art as she wanted to study a subject she could fully immerse herself in.
“I had the opportunity to paint a large mural for a charity in Lancaster and while I received excellent feedback, I knew that I wanted to improve my drawing and painting skills as well as benefit from a network of artists and professionals who I could learn and exchange ideas with,” she said.
“The community at Gray’s is very welcoming and diverse and I have found it hugely enjoyable. It was fantastic to have access to workshops and not only practice painting and drawing, but also to learn about laser cutting, ceramics, digital art, photography and more.
“I think everyone made a huge effort to get to know the students and I think I will benefit from all their advice and from what I learned long after art school.”
Leila said she is ambitious to build on the skills she learned regarding organising exhibitions in order to eventually work within a museum, gallery, charity or other organisation in the cultural sector.
She concluded: “During my time at university, I had the opportunity to paint a large mural in a primary school in Aberdeen, as well as to collaborate with a fellow student for a painting project in the Eric Hendrie Park. After graduation I want to find more opportunities and apply for commissions for public murals, artworks and collaborate with other professionals for projects.
“I have been creating a large series of small ceramic sculptures which I want to add to after graduation, seen as I have many ideas for more of them.”
The annual Gray’s School of Art Degree Show will run from June 15-22 and will showcase work by students of all disciplines.