‘The Crow’s Home’ brings BC imagery to Sackville.
After living for many years in Victoria, B.C., artist Rose Leonard has returned to her home province with a beautiful collection of glass etchings, stone sculptures, and paintings that are now featured at Fog Forest Gallery. Her exhibition, entitled “The Crow’s Home,” depicts a variety of wildlife from both western and eastern Canada and showcases the diversity of artistic skills that Leonard has acquired throughout her lifetime.
In order to represent the story of her life and family through art, Leonard hand carved a six-foot cedar totem pole that is the exhibition’s titular sculpture and central piece. Entitled “The Crow’s Home,” it demonstrates her craftsmanship and humble storytelling by specifically incorporating symbolic animals from sea, land, and sky. In a cyclical pattern, the totem pole tells Leonard’s story of “leaving the nest” to find herself on the west coast before returning home to New Brunswick. In addition to illustrating Leonard’s cultural background, the sculpture is the pinnacle of her creative abilities and a testament to the importance of family.
Leonard often refers to herself as “the Crow” or “Kahkahuhs” in Maliseet, a cultural tradition that she has engaged and identified with in many of her artistic works due to her family heritage. She also associates her mother with this symbolic bird and describes the spiritual connection she believes they share, even across great distances. “If something happens in my mother’s life that affects her emotions,” she says, “I know, and I feel it. And vice versa.”
Although this exhibition is by no means her first solo show, it is unique in the sense that each piece is a personal creation not intended for any particular client. Leonard described this as a refreshing change from her usual schedule, because she could take the time to catch up on personal projects. “This is the first time I’ve ever done any work without a client or a place in mind for it,” she says. “[The exhibition] is a collection of things I’ve wanted to do for some time.”
Throughout her career, Leonard has always strived to find a practical balance between artistic expression and financial stability, and stresses the importance of remaining professional in order to be taken seriously as an artist. Her philosophy is that “the business side always comes first,” and has marketed her trade to wealthy B.C. clients and companies who commission personal decorative projects and large glass murals. “The art world is like anything else,” she explains. “It’s who you know.”
Originally from Saint John, N.B., Leonard has recently relocated from B.C. to a rural cottage not far from Sackville. She lives with her partner Alana Brownlee, whose involvement with Leonard’s artistic process and business management is so influential that many of the exhibition’s works are signed “Leonard and Brownlee.”
After she graduated high school and moved to the west coast, Leonard started her career in carving and sculpting by making realistic animal decoys and targets for hunting practice. Later on, she began to teach herself the extremely specialized and intricate art of glass carving and etching. The process involves creating a design and transferring it to a pane of glass before using a focused sandblaster to erode the glass in several stages until the final product is achieved.
While she respects others’ decisions to go to college or university, Leonard chose not to attend a post-secondary institution because she wanted to pursue her own custom path. “I felt comfortable with my own abilities,” she explains, “And it worked out alright.”
In the near future, Leonard plans to hold glass etching workshops to help young aspiring artists to learn her trade. Her exhibition can be viewed at the Fog Forest Gallery on Bridge St. until April 26.