Belle Leonard video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

BELLE LEONARD: My name is Belle. I'm 18. I live in Maitland. I went to Maitland Grossman High School. And my body of work was the reading, which was a collection of works around the idea of self image for teens and just the way that you perceive yourself versus how you actually are.

TEXT: How did your Year 11 work support you?

BELLE LEONARD: It was very useful. Because even before year 11 as well, I did the visual arts courses before that. So really, whatever you can get before going into HSC, grab it, take it. Take it in because you never know what you'll want to do. Do all of the things that your teacher gives you. Whether you might not want to do drawing or charcoal works or lino print but do it. Because you get into it and you might find that, at first, you might not like it, but you'll find that you are quite good at it.

TEXT: What was your initial idea for the Body of Work and did that change?

BELLE LEONARD: Well, it did change. That's like it will always change. My initial idea is I wanted, well, at first, because I'm indigenous from my dad's from Northern Queensland sort of area, so I thought maybe something about that because as half white Australian and indigenous, I thought maybe something about that. But then I thought that doing something that was just about myself and my own personal journey in this sort of stage wasn't as impactful because it didn't really reach to a broader audience. People couldn't look at it and sort of say, oh, I relate to that. Only sort of a few people would probably be able to. So I thought, try to broaden it and do something that everyone can sort of feel a bit more.

TEXT: Using your Visual Arts Process Diary

BELLE LEONARD: My visual arts diary was it was helpful. You need it. When at the start, it was great. Before getting into the practical, like actually doing the artwork, it was great to just sit it out and just go for it, right? Whatever idea came to your head, if you were just sitting somewhere, just have it near you, so whenever you thought of anything, I could just write it down no matter how silly it was.

TEXT: What did you find the most challenging?

BELLE LEONARD: It was also great for when I'm researching artists beforehand and sort of styles that I like and anything. So I could sort of print off things, stick it in. Just go crazy with mind maps and brainstorming. It's a mess, if you look at mine.

TEXT: What did you find most challenging?

BELLE LEONARD: In the initial stages, it was hard to get people who were willing enough to be photographed for my artwork. It was a lot for people because the artwork was about their identity and about their personal issues. I was lucky enough to actually get enough people for it. There were a lot of people that once they found out what I was doing, they sort of said, no, thank you. Some people were just too awkward to go in on the day. Some people just didn't turn up. But thank you to the people who did.

BELLE LEONARD: After that, the actual doing the artwork, the painting, that was tricky because I wasn't necessarily-- I hadn't done much oil painting really before that other than sort of small things in class. But I knew I could sort of figure it out. And I thought, I will be able to do this for my work.

BELLE LEONARD: There were just stages where it was I'm painting and oil painting just didn't work and things were just getting frustrating. So I didn't know how to work it because I was still in a learning stage of it. So talking to my teacher really helped overcome those challenges because he knows so much about anything and everything.

BELLE LEONARD: So family helped as well. It was good to have a refreshing you think, oh, my mom and that one. No. They kind of don't. But it's good to talk to someone who has a fresh perspective because they just go for it and let you know anything. So it's, yeah, just get as many perspectives and that really helped.

BELLE LEONARD: I did not want to do collection of works. I wanted to do just painting. I just wanted to get the books that I was doing it on. I knew I wanted to do some of the books. But I thought, I just have the books, have the painting on the books. That should be good enough.

BELLE LEONARD: And that changed drastically when my teacher was just he said, step back. Have a look. Do you think people would understand that if they weren't you and you didn't tell them? And I thought, yeah. There's not enough behind it to back it up. So that really helped, especially with the continuing metaphor of the work which was, don't judge a book by its cover. So there were so many symbols in the end that just had to be there to really push the message. So I'm not at all angry that I didn't end up just doing the paintings. I'm glad I did because it really pushed through my ideas.

TEXT: Who has influenced you?

BELLE LEONARD: Michael Zavros, I really loved his work. He was really good. I mean, obviously, I wasn't going to be able to achieve the photo realism that he was. But he was amazing. And just sort of the vanity, the idea of vanity that he sort of conveys in his work, and different perspectives like see something from another way.

BELLE LEONARD: I found Lin Onus in the beginning. My teacher actually introduced it to me. Like it's great. It's the whole you see stand back, and the first thing you see is just an image with just a reflection of water and some leaves and stuff. And when you look into more, in all of his works, you look a bit more, you stand there and come to learn and study it and sort of spend more time with the artwork, you see that there's the indigenous fishes and birds and lizards and whatnot all through it. So Lin Onus was really cool as well with pushing the idea of spend time and get to know things before you judge it, so I really love that. He's great. And also indigenous artist was just a big plus as well.

TEXT: Advice

BELLE LEONARD: Students going into HSC or who are not far off, and you're deciding what to do, come up with your ideas. Write them out. As soon as possible, come up and start thinking of ideas as soon as you can. Even before if you know you're doing HSC visual arts, get started on some ideas. And as soon as you think of a good idea, stick with it.

End of transcript

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