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Paul W. Leathers

While still in high school, Paul Leathers believed that he had found his calling after taking an evening course in jewellery making at the University of Manitoba. Leathers went on to complete his formal training at Sheridan College’s School of Crafts & Design (DIP), the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (BFA), and the University of Calgary (MFA). An award-winning studio metalsmith, his enigmatic works have been exhibited in Canada, the USA, Germany, Norway and Australia, and have been published in numerous books and magazines. For over twenty-five years Leathers has focused on the development of innovative techniques and experimental material usage for jewellery and sculptural objects. An educator who has lectured and led workshops in Canada, the USA, England, Scotland, Denmark, Malta, Australia and the People’s Republic of China, he has taught at the Alberta College of Art & Design, the University of Calgary, and has headed metalworking departments in Manitoba and British Columbia. He has served on numerous visual arts juries as well as on the Boards of Directors of the Manitoba Crafts Council (President, 1986-'88), the Manitoba Jewellers' Association, and the Crafts Guild of Manitoba. Inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2006, Leathers currently maintains his full-time studio practice in Red Deer, Alberta. 

Title: Lampioni
Materials: Multi-fired glazed ceramic with Sterling silver, bronze, tea light, MDF, paint, plate glass, ultra-bright blue LED, transformer, powder coated steel, concrete, silicone. Size: (H) 106 x (W) 16 x (D) 16 cm.
Date: 2004, collaboration with ceramic artist, Trudy Golley RCA
Photo credit: © paul leathers 

“In every created work there is a union of desire, idea, action and material.”

Paul Valéry, The Pre-eminent Dignity of the Arts of Fire

"My studio practice deals with strategies of display and attraction wherein I invent evocative forms that use materiality and light to entice the viewer. Conceptual plans are often generated out of the investigation and application of ruin theory and non-Albertian visual systems (anamorphosis, parergonal effects, etc.) that explore the objective relationship between viewer, viewed and viewpoint. My artworks both reveal and subvert the primacy of the gaze while engaging the viewer as an active participant: the lure of the object. Initially focused on the integration of non-traditional materials into wearable artworks, my practice includes installation-based sculptures.

I have explored that which motivates the reception of both sculptural and wearable artworks — attraction, redirection and relocation. The viewer’s attraction to an artwork, and by extension his or her seduction by and engagement with that artwork, is an important outcome. I have also found ways to incorporate light effects into my artworks in order to address notions of conceptual and intellectual illumination. Recently, I have been exploring form and surface development for both jewellery and sculptural objects while on four artist’s residencies in China. I have drawn inspiration from the materials and iconography of the archaic cultural artifacts seen in museums and on the streets. Once called ‘white gold’ in the West, I use porcelain for its association with historical traditions, preciousness and pristine utilitarianism. I believe that, in its fragmented state, the porcelain speaks as much to our notions of collector and collection as it does to the artifact’s materiality."

Title: Wedding Set
Materials: Depletion gilt 14Kt yellow and white gold with yellow diamond. Date: 2006
Photo credit: © paul leathers 

Title: Esther’s Brooch
Materials: Sterling silver with almandine garnet. Size: (H) 8.2 x (W) 2.2 x (D) 1.2 cm.
Date: 2008
Photo credit: © paul leathers 

Title: Cabinet, mysterious content of, 304 (v.5.0) B
Materials: Mixed media installation with GOBO projection light effect. Size: Overall, (H) 30 x (W) 25 x (D) 26 cm.
Date: 2011
Photo credit: © paul leathers 

Title: JDZ Fragment Brooches (Blue & White, the new Red)
Materials: Oxidized Sterling silver with slip-cast coloured porcelain forms. Size: Each around, (H) 6 x (W) 2 x (D) 1.2 cm.
Date: 2012
Photo credit: © paul leathers 

Paul Leathers' work can be found at the following galleries:

David Kaye Gallery, Toronto

Galerie Noel Guyomarc'h, Montréal.

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