Monthly Picks: Elizah Leigh

Elizah Leigh - Guest Curator April 2024

This month our guest curator is acclaimed word painter, Elizah Leigh. If you are unfamiliar with the term word painter, reading through her picks, or any of the interviews she has contributed to Quirky Fox, you will quickly come to understand the term: her words practically dance off the page to create vivid images in the mind of the reader.

We asked Elizah to share two works from the gallery she would add to her private collection if given the choice.



Sarah Dolby Limited Edition Print Miss Havisham

Miss Havisham - Sarah Dolby

An artist interested in depicting the angelic personality of their muse might expressively exaggerate their arches or pile their luxurious wheaten locks - flecked with teensie, ever-so-delicate pink daisies - exceedingly sky high. Sarah Dolby’s rather self-assured Miss Havisham, however - donning a comfortably slouchy blouse that is lazily hanging on for dear life - doesn’t seem to be reaching toward the firmament. Instead, her laser-beam fixed gaze - so calm, cool and collected - searches for signs of adulation from the enraptured audience sitting before her.

I’m not certain if the clearly self-assured, delightfully non-fussy enchantress at the heart of Sarah’s painting is oh-so-loosely modelled after Charles Dickens’ eccentric spinster Miss Havisham from his 1861 novel “Great Expectations” - or if they merely just share the same name - but I’m inclined to believe the latter. The two creatives behind the literary and painterly versions of these ladies have, however, succeeded in fleshing out undeniably compelling portraits, each quite unique in its own right.

In Sarah Dolby’s case, her empress with an electric blue stare blooms as uninhibitedly as the botanical splendour that surrounds her. The beholder is bearing witness to a highly contemporary Miss Havisham who knows precisely what she wants and how to get it…and though it’s abundantly clear that she could effortlessly commandeer any seduction, she’s not necessarily giving off ‘come hither’ vibes. Because she doesn’t need to.

Rather than limping through life as a society-fulfilling caricature who is only deemed as worthy as the ‘street value’ of her endlessly scrutinised appearance, Sarah Dolby’s uniquely compelling feminine vision with assertively striped trousers *unapologetically owns* her divine power to be the she that she truly wants to be. Like her three-dimensional counterparts who eschew plasticised feminine ideals in favour of making chick-ballsy choices that imbue each day, week, and month with real substance, 21st century Miss Havisham navigates her wonderfully messy journey with 100% that b*tch vibes….as all the very best bad @ss b*tch bosses do.



Jane Crisp Limited Edition Print Untethered Soul

Untethered Soul - Jane Crisp

Anyone would gasp upon seeing Brunia albiflora - a striking tropical shrubnative to the cape region of South Africa - for the very first time.

The pleasing bit of botanical razzamatazz - characterised by dark green feathery pine needle starbursts studded with knobby, scale-covered baubles – was initially photographed by Jane Crisp in mid-2018 as a source of visual inspiration before she inevitably transformed her shot into the astoundingly realistic acrylic painting Untethered Soul that is pictured here.

Instagram stalkers will note the ‘slow reveal’ of a few random sneaky-peekies of Untethered Soul on the artist’s account throughout its creative evolution, including a glimpse of her New Zealand fantail bird painted in acrylics and - later on - that very same feathered beauty accenting a very large cluster of Brunia albiflora.

As impressive as it is that she rendered her final visual composition so realistically - a “crazy challenge” that the artist confesses she still can’t believe she pulled off - what stays with us the most is its less-is-more grandeur, instantly hushing the inner dialogue typically dominating our headspace.

We instead find ourselves joyfully steeped in the moment - joining Jane Crisp’s celebratory pseudo-firework homage to the natural world - wherein glittering silver-flecked orbs and verdant streamers dash across the velvety solace of Mother Nature’s midnight embrace while her diminutive fantail gleefully squeaks its symphonious accompaniment.

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