Few people look at a computer keyboard and imagine it as jewelry, lamps or a dress.
But Leslie Leong does. Her newest exhibition Shift shows regular objects in irregular ways.
It’s both political and creative, said Leong of her newest work.
“I want to deal with the whole idea of obsolescence that’s built into the stuff we buy nowadays,” she said. “I like older products because they tend to be made better. And I like to find new uses for the beauty in the stuff we throw away.
“We don’t need to get new stuff and buy new stuff. There’s so much beauty in the junk we create.”
Leong blames her first career as a civil engineer for her artistic fascination with technology.
Circuit board earrings and broaches, matched with keyboard key necklaces fill one corner of the gallery. A mannequin across the room displays her newest fashions, including a skirt made from the silicone, inner-bodies of keyboards. And along another wall, lamps adorned with keyboard circuit graphs are lit up.
But her “remake, rethink,” approach isn’t just recycled ewaste.
A third corner of the room is littered with “bionic” furniture; chairs with different types of legs and dinning chairs remodeled into stools. Beside the keyboard-circuit lamps, an old window frame holds a collage of broken, etched mirrors worked into a mountainscape, and cuffs, or wide bracelets, made from birch bark and resin adorn mannequin arms on the adjacent wall.
A donated bucket of small fan covers inspired the pieces Leong is most excited about.
The silver coils are strung together as decorative belts and quilted into a retro-looking room divider.
“I love the challenge of finding a neat material and then figuring out what to do with it,” she said. “It’s fun and it’s exciting and it’s new and it’s different. I am not as keen on traditional arts.”
The most traditional works in Shift hang on the walls.
Many of Leong’s bright and colourful botanical photos have been blown up and printed on canvas.
“I love not having glass in front of the images,” Leong said. “They pop out. And I love them big.
“That’s the ‘rethink’ side of things. I like to look at details and blow them up so that they’re not in a familiar scale, because then we see more. We get to know the subject a bit more.”
Affecting the way people see regular objects is the main motivation behind Leong’s art, she said.
Leong wants to inspire people to imagine things the way they could be, instead of just how they are – especially if the items are just waiting at the side of the road, beside garbage bins.
“It’s all about sharing a new awareness with other people, hoping that they’ll gain a new awareness as well,” she said.
Shift will be at Gallery 22 (Above Triple J’s Music, Tattoos and Piercing) until December 9.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at email@example.com