He’s probably the most successful local artist that you’ve never heard of, but after a break from painting for 20 years, Tommy Leonard is once again grabbing the attention of both collectors and critics alike with a one-man exhibition.
Originally from Brynn Street, Tommy worked as a bricklayer for St.Helens’ Council and after a hard day’s work, he taught himself how to paint and sculpt.Granada TV dubbed him the ‘bricklayer artist’ from his evocative artistic portrayal of the buildings and industrial landscapes of Merseyside.
His work was show-cased in a series of 13 one-man exhibitions in venues such as Salford Art Gallery (1986), Salford Museum of Mining (1994), Granada Television Buildings (1985) and the St.Helens’ Art Gallery (1985, 1993 & 1999). Institutions such as IBM computers and wealthy art collectors (including Lord Pilkington) also eagerly purchased his paintings and Tommy was the subject of a Granada documentary on the ‘Northern Art Scene’.
Then, at the height of his success, Tommy ceased painting. “I had just had enough of the frantic pace of it all. Almost over-night, my enthusiasm disappeared. I don’t want to sound ungrateful – but I think I realised that being a success in other peoples’ eyes actually meant very little to me. I didn’t pick up a brush for over 20 years”.
After a recent chance encounter with a former collector of his work, Tommy decided to return to his easel. The result is a series of abstract paintings which depict the industrial landscape and the dark impact upon the people within it.
The work was seen by Dov Stein, a successful gallery owner from Cheshire, and Tommy was immediately commissioned for a one-man exhibition entitled ‘A Life’s Work’.
“Within two years, I really think that Tommy will be very well known”, says Dove. At present his work hangs in the gallery beside other creative luminaries such as L.S.Lowry, Peter Howson and Geoffrey Key.
The exhibition, in the prestigious ‘Art My Treasure’ Gallery in Wimslow, runs until 5th October.
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