Sean Leahy has spent his entire life surrounded by art; it’s his passion and reason for living - art is life! He is well-known for his work as a political cartoonist and is holding his first EVER exhibition of paintings at Aspire Gallery in Paddington this month. The exhibition is titled Dreamscapes, Broome to Brisbane and runs from now till 17 November.
Why have you waited until now to exhibit a collection of paintings? ~ It’s a bit like parenthood. I was waiting until I was ready, sometime in the distant future, but I realised that I’d never start if I waited until then.
Where did the idea come from and what should audiences expect? ~ I mentored an emerging artist for the Arts & Minds initiative in April this year and the theme of our paintings was “Discovery”. That experience took the lid off the container and everything I’d been thinking and dreaming about suddenly started emerging. In a day I had done my first acrylic painting and although the time was limited I found the experience a real joy.
How did you become a political cartoonist and what opportunities has this career afforded you? ~ My first published cartoon was on fishing in the yearly high school magazine in Carnarvon in WA. I was 14. At 16 I was doing a weekly cartooning the local suburban newspaper in the Perth Darling Ranges called The Darling Advertiser. Then at 17 while still at high school, I was doing two cartoons a week at The West Australian capital city daily in Perth. One meeting led to another. After 7 years there, I moved to Brisbane. It’s taken me all over the world.
Can you tell us your key message behind your series? ~ There isn’t one key message. I address many themes and the viewer will make up their own minds about whether they see a message. It’s a story of my journey in the real world and in my imagination. If there is any main message it might be look at your own journey in your own way. Reflect on the turning points and recall what moved you deeply and what still does.
Where can people find and connect with you online? ~ Through @leahycartoons on Facebook or Twitter, until I put up a specific page for this art.
What does success mean to you? ~ Giving fully. By my “check out date” I’d like to know I gave my best to my family, my friends and my art.
What inspires you? ~ Nature and people who follow their dreams. You can see it in their faces. It brings them more alive when they are following their spirit.
What has been your favourite part of the painting process for this collection? ~
The quiet joy of the painting process. It hasn’t been all joy of course. I’ve had to start again with paintings that didn’t work but when it DOES work it is a moment of alignment, a feeling, however brief, of being on song.
Did you experience and overcome any hurdles with putting the collection together? ~ My biggest hurdle was myself. Agonising over starting was the worst part. I often want to be sure of the outcome but I know that’s quite unrealistic. Accepting that I’ll never be completely sure is a lesson I’m still learning.
What importance does being creative have in your life? ~ It IS life. That is ONE thing I’m completely sure of.