I believe that my passion for creating art comes from my prior career as a ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer. I was very fortunate to be a part of three world-renowned ballet companies. The first of those being in England with The Royal Ballet, the second with The Stuttgart Ballet company in Germany, and the last in Toronto, Canada where I taught at the famous National Ballet of Canada and its feeder school, the National Ballet School.
As I look back over this period in my life and how it exists today, there are many similarities. In the past, there was arranging choreography, music and costumes to put all the various elements together to make a whole or finished piece. Now, instead of using my body, choreography and music to make ballet, I use paint, color, beads and found objects to make my art.
As a child growing up in South Africa, flowers were everywhere; especially in our back yards. My parents always assigned me to do the floral arrangements for their dinner parties. To this day, I still love flower arranging and working in my garden. Now I have added the painting element to my arrangements. My paintings are all very spontaneous, heavy with paint and free flowing. I love doing these as they are also rather experimental and I never quite know how one will turn out.
Creating my jewelry started out by making paper maché beads that once painted, look like agate, jasper, tigers eye and other semi-precious stones, except much lighter to wear around one's neck. I then went to a wonderful bead workshop in Tuscon, Arizona and got bitten by the bead bug. Many years later I opened my own retail store where I carried millions of beads, pearls, crystal and some precious stones. My favorite times were doing commission pieces for brides and their extended party. I would sometimes have to include a bit of the mother and grandmother’s pieces of jewelry into a head dress or necklace; giving me a real glimpse into the bride’s history and bringing it into current times. Once again my love of flowers would prevail, and I therefore have loved designing for brides.
My newest metal sculptures are made from old tin cans, aluminum soup and soft drink cans, metal twist off caps...and many found objects. Each piece is first manipulated to make it seem old and rusty, each section is then cut by hand and lastly, nailed to a back board to make the finished piece. A very lengthy but exciting and rather experimental way of bringing "collage" into a different direction. My metal artwork can be found at Brian Jones Gallery in Little Italy.
I would have to say that my work has many stages, lots of color and lots of movement. I guess I still have "dancing in my blood and combinations in my head."
- Leigh Bennett
I offer a variety of painting, sculpture and jewlery workshops... either privately in my studio or to a class in an Art Center, Bead Guild or School. I am also a "CZT"– which stands for Certified Zentangle Teacher. I am able to teach this method to everyone, everywhere!
For more information about any of my artwork or workshops available, please call me at 440.552.8578 or use this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.