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‘Exquisite Familiar’ Artist: Lea Leach

Lea is one of our ‘The Exquisite Familiar’ artists. ‘The Exquisite Familiar’ is an Access2Arts project that sees a group of eleven South Australian disabled artists, both emerging and established, working together through multiple workshops and mediums to create powerful collaborative art. This art is then exhibited at the Art Gallery of South Australia and MOD., placing disabled artists firmly and proudly in prominent institutions.

What was the inspiration for your uncanny creatures?

All of the artworks that I drew for the exhibition, have subtle features that were important for me personally, to include. I wanted to create creatures, that simply popped into my head, the only preconceived idea I had, is that they would be grounded in human experiences. Such as facial and body scarring, stretch marks, mastectomy, limb amputation, hearing aid user, piercings, a tattoo.

A black and white illustration of a creature with a human head and hair of snakes, a mid-section with one breast, and a bottom made of tentacles.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistic practice.

I’m Lea, I have physical disabilities, I’m a mobility aid user, a hearing aid user, and I’m mentally ill. I identify as a ‘cripple punk’ (google the movement if you’d like to learn about it). My art practice and disabilities melt together, I mostly create digital artwork, because it requires no set up & pack down. It also means, that I can take my art anywhere with me, especially to bed on rest days.

Where do you find inspiration?

Mostly, I try to create art that I needed to see. I want to see more disabled bodies, and references in art of all kinds, led by the disabled community. But I’m also working on creating pieces that exist as they are, and letting go of taking on the weight of any expectations.

How does your disability influence your craft?

I share my anger with ableism, and the deep connection I have with my community through art. I try to communicate the intricacies of how it feels, how it is, to be disabled in a world that currently and historically refuses to see us as whole, complex beings. My art is always intended, for the disabled community, first.

What food, drink, or song inspires you?

I listen to music when I draw. It helps me to stay focused, and stops my brain from being so loud. Some artists currently on rotation are: Courtney Barnett, Carla Geneve, Miki Ratsula, Dolly Parton, Electric Fields, Daft Punk, Nancy Bates, Paul Kelly, Amyl and The Sniffers, I could go on & on.

Read more of The Exquisite Familiar artist interviews here.