Rotherham teenager’s inspiring artistic tributes to historic landmarks

ARTIST Leila Wood lifted the lid on her love of creating new work - and explained how being able to escape into another world helps with her autism.

The teenager is one of the students’ whose artwork is on display at Wath Library as part of the annual A level and GCSE exhibition from Wath Academy.

Leila said she had been creating art for more of her life: “Ever since I could hold a pen!”

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She added: “I’ve loved drawing and painting since I was little and it’s an interest that’s continued to grow and develop.”

The young illustrator said said a model of Whitby Abbey was her favourite work so far, adding: “It was my final piece for my design and technology course.”

She said: “I’ve worked hard for the last two years in fine art and Design Technology, culminating with two, 15-hour exams which ran over a couple of weeks.

“It was really stressful trying to get everything completed for both subjects at the same time.”

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Leila explained creating art was a release for her, adding: “Having autism, I find it difficult to communicate in person. Using art allows me to escape into a different world of my own.

“I love working on a project, focusing on details, textures and colours and seeing how it turns out in the end.

People have been very supportive with their messages to me and accommodating with interviews about my work.”

Leila, who cites Piet Mondrian, Jaume Plensa, Svetlana Wittmann and Christian Coop as her favourite artists, draws on architecture for inspiration for much of her work.

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She explained: “To begin with, I enjoyed the predictability of creating building artwork, the straight lines of their architecture and the patterns in the brickwork.

“I’ve enjoyed finding unusual buildings and local landmarks too and incorporating them into my work.

“My favourite medium for my art work is watercolour painting with details drawn in fine liner.

“I think the effect this combination creates is really eye catching and looks like an illustration.”

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The talented artist is in demand, having sold a few pieces of her work and received requests for more.

“I’ve not had time to focus on creating art to sell while I’ve been studying and a lot of my work is inspired by other artists’ work so I’m not able to sell that,” she said.

“Hopefully now I’ve finished sixth form, I can start creating more of my own original art to sell.”

As for her further ambitions, she added: “I want to continue creating art as paintings, drawings, models and everything else.

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“I want to learn new skills and techniques and to start my own self employed art business.

“It will take time to build up a portfolio of work and I’m sure there’ll be some obstacles to overcome along the way.

“I’m open to suggestions of what people would like to see and want people to know they can help me even by liking, sharing and commenting on my online work to broaden my audience and get more visibility.

“The great thing about art is that there are always new ideas and techniques coming to the market. I’m going to try some flower art work next using mixed media to create a 3D effect on canvas.

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“There are so many things I’ve not done yet, I’d like to have a go at stained glass and maybe try some different printing techniques too.

“I’ve recently got a cricut machine so I’m looking forward to seeing how I can incorporate using that into my art and models and maybe also making personalised things.”

Leila said she would love for people to see more of her own work - she has her own Facebook page at Art by Leila Wood - and explore their own creativity.

“Art is for everyone - have a go at creating things yourself,” she said.

“It’s an escape from everyday worries and problems and it’s great for mental health.”

The exhibition at Wath Library will run throughout the summer.