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  • Writer's pictureElle

Chatting with Aleesha and Holly from LEDA gallery.

Leda is a gallery based in Newcastle, NSW. Created and ran by two creative ladies, Holly & Aleesha. Enjoy the chat as they answer questions, I believe, for two people to have such a beautiful, captivating space which holds space for international and local artists, must be pretty darn interesting, don't you? Very grateful to feature such inspiring ladies & I love the story of how they created LEDA.


Who are the faces behind Leda? and a little bit about yourselves?

Leda Gallery is a collaboration of both Holly Wilson and Aleesha Hardie.

About Holly,

Visual art and creative writing major Holly Wilson has a continual and evolving focus on her multi medium art practices. She connects with abstract expressionism and minimalism which she incorporates into her individual practice. Wilson’s family worked remotely around Australia, giving her the opportunity to experience life out of the usual structures of childhood. These opportunities nurtured her natural desires for exploration, curiosity and creativity.

She anticipated any opportunity to visit her grandmother who was an antiques and art dealer based in Waterloo, Sydney. Here is where her deep love for art and culture first formed.

The first years of Wilson’s professional life were studying and working as a florist in the Valley. During this time she explored her passion for still life drawing and music as a singer songwriter.

Wilson made her decision to relocate to Newcastle to commence her study of creative industries. This enabled Holly to delve further into her interest of fine arts and creative writing, majoring in both subjects at the University of Newcastle.

In the midst of her bachelor degree, Wilson worked as a teacher at the Newcastle Music Academy and continued to develop her music career.

Wilsons individual art practice delves into the exploration of the relationship between femininity and nature through mixed mediums and abstract expressionism, which she says

“draws together my love of nature in its forms and appreciation for femininity. My expression gives a sense of nostalgia and comfort as a woman living in this day and age”.

About Aleesha,

A student of private art school LCI College in Collingwood, Victoria and fourth generation female artist, Aleesha Hardie studied a Bachelor of Design Art to then follow on with a year at CAE Art School in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, where abstract, figurative and life drawing become well known mediums in her daily practice.

Though her training saw her studying fine arts and spending much of her time with canvas and acrylic, she found herself intrigued with the world of filmmaking and photography. This love affair with film and creation eventually became her career, as she took on the Melbourne and international music scene as a freelance videographer and photographer, shooting editorial and band photos whilst selling her paintings privately.

As a multi talented artist living amongst the Melbourne scene, globally known for its diversity, energy and creativity, opportunity was abundant until COVID-19 forced all of Melbourne, and the world around us to slow down or even shut down. Hardie turned to her acrylics and canvas more than ever during this time, and found the same fondness for her camera within the depths of her paintings.

Aleesha comes from a long history of female artists in her family, a tie to the women before her time that is sacred to her, much like her family. A respectful relationship with art was founded early on in Aleesha’s life, emotional connections, and her authenticity to freely express herself ensures the work she creates is an accurate representation of who she is as a person.

“I find it soothing to be standing in front of a canvas for six hours, no sounds need to be heard. The only self care routine.” - Aleesha Hardie.

What is Leda Gallery and how did it form?

LEDA is a modern contemporary commercial gallery space. We both had dreams of doing this but neither of us had individually put the wheels in motion. We met by chance through a friend for lunch. We shared an instant connection and an alignment in our interests and goals. So that day we looked at the premises on the market and signed the lease. We had the keys a few days later and haven't looked back. One of those rare moments when a huge leap just feels right and continues to make sense.

What does an event / class night look like a Leda?

The Drink & Draw Session by LEDA is an immersive experience, based around classic nude life drawing subjects, navigating through an array of mediums and techniques. The inquired mediums include variant techniques in charcoal, graphite, pencil, acrylic, sepia ink, oil pastel, and sanguine.

We have put a lot of thought into creating a perfect evening of art and atmosphere with delicious refreshments and a glass of wine. We have created the classes so that we can accommodate those who are experienced or first timers. Its LEDA's take on the fun of a classic drink and draw but with a classy twist that creates a community that is respectful of both the art itself and our wonderful life models.

When students arrive, we have the curtains drawn over our main gallery room which creates a perfect mystery, inside you'll find a dimly lit room scattered with easels and immersive music softly humming. The smell of paint, burning wax and warm olives fill the gallery and we greet you with a glass of bubbles. We chat and get comfortable, go through the little box of art materials offered and some drawing techniques, then begin the session led by Aleesha who is a skilled life drawing teacher, as our professional model moves through a range of poses for all to individually interpret. We finish the evening with the opportunity to look at the evening's creations and socialize. It's a great evening, and we absolutely love creating this environment to offer our community.

What has been a really lovely moment since opening?

A really memorable moment was when we installed Michel Le Goff in the space, we got to see an artists full body of work in the space we had created. When we put up his name on the wall and title of the exhibition "BLEU" it was a realization that our dreams of a contemporary gallery space had come to fruition and we were so elevated by what we had achieved. The space felt like it could be anywhere in the world, and we were so proud that we had created it.

If you could feature anyone's art, who would you?

Probably Brett Whitely or Helen Frankenthaler. But there are so many amazing artists that we would be ecstatic to hold at LEDA. I personally am obsessed with Lottie Consalvo's work, she is a phenomenal Newcastle artist (Holly). We are also really excited to see the work of Christophe Domergue at LEDA in February 2022, who just showed at Oxford Street Gallery. His works are so unique and industrial. We are huge fans of his practice.

Lastly, the question everyone gets asked... what sets your soul on fire?

An artist's opening exhibition at LEDA, when the guests arrive for the show and the wine begins to pour. It's such a great feeling!


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