Whale Wails and Waves: 24 June to 20 August 2017
A huge whale takes centre stage in a playful series of dream-like drawings inspired by ecology, biology and nature in the forthcoming exhibition by former Harley Open winner Olivier Marc Thomas Leger.
Whale Wails and Waves is set to be one of the biggest and best solo shows to date by the Loughborough based artist, who won both the Judges’ Prize and People’s Prize in the Harley Open art competition in 2015.
Opening 24 June, it will run alongside work entered into this year’s popular biennial Harley Open from across the UK and abroad with the expert panel selecting around 140 for the show.
Olivier’s drawings are made using fine liner pens (0.03 – 0.8mm) with the animals imagined as living planets with their own landscapes and ecosystems.
Olivier explains: “When I started drawing these doodles a few years ago, I was thinking a lot about the environment and I just drew what was on my mind. I take inspiration from nature and I’m learning more all the time, it’s an unlimited source.
“Sometimes people can feel intimidated by art. I want to break that barrier. My work is playful, I hope that people enjoy my work and spend some time with it.”
Visitors are encouraged to explore the drawings in more detail and discover surprises often hidden within his work. His largest piece – La Baleine (the whale) – took around a year to create and is full of details to captivate the audience; from shoals of fish, a mountain range with a tiny bear, and even a ship in a bottle.
Unsurprisingly, the artist says his main challenge is achieving the level of detail when working in such an intricate scale. He’ll be sharing some of his tips with local school children with workshops over 27-29 June, including pupils from Norbridge Academy. Norbridge Academy is working with the Harley Gallery on the long-term ‘Lift Off!’ project, which works to place artists in schools to support arts education. Following the workshop, Olivier will be loaning a work to Norbridge to display.
Olivier said: “Winning the Harley Open helped me raise my profile with a wider audience. The Harley Gallery audience are well engaged so it’s an amazing opportunity for me to have an exhibition here.
“It’s not just about the prizes, although of course, the money is great for artists starting out. Having an audience for your work is the real benefit in the long term.
Entries to this year’s Harley Open are now being assessed by the expert panel of judges.
On the panel for the 2017 exhibition are Hannah Obee, Exhibitions Curator, Chatsworth; Geoff Diego Litherland, Artist and Lucy Phillips, Director, Leicester Print Workshop.
As well as selecting pieces for the exhibition, the following prizes will be awarded:
The Harley Prize: £750 and a solo exhibition alongside the next Open Exhibition
Judges Prize: £500 – Sponsored by The Welbeck Estates Company Ltd
The People’s Prize: £250 – Sponsored by Child First at Welbeck
The Storycatchers Prize: £250
Welbeck Farm Shop Prize: Luxury Hamper
The School of Artisan Food Prize: A weekend course
Lisa Gee, Director of The Harley Gallery said: “The Harley Open gives us an exciting insight into what Britain’s artists are making now. We love getting entries from established artists but it’s just as important to us to see work by people who are just starting out, or maybe haven’t shown their work in a gallery very much before. We get entries that are serious or funny, detailed or abstract, traditional or really wacky! It’s the diversity that makes the Open so successful, it gets a lot of visitors and we are able to sell many of the entries for our artists.”
For more information visit: www.harleygallery.co.uk.