Biography

Born in Greenock, Scotland, Patricia Leighton received her BA degree at Edinburgh College of Art.  She was awarded a Commonwealth post-graduate Scholarship to extend her studies at the School of Fine at Poznan, where she studied with Magdalena Abakanowicz, and received her MA degree. 

Patricia has been the recipient of many awards, including Scottish Arts Council travel and Fellowship awards, New York Foundation for the Arts award, and Pollock Krasner Foundation grants.  Her residencies include Grizedale Forest Sculpture Park, UK, the Djerassi Foundation, CA, and a forthcoming residency at the McColl Center for Visual Arts, Charlotte, NC.

Leighton usually works in the open, intervening directly with the landscape, carving out of the ground, and sculpting with earth. In Scotland she built The Sawtooth Ramps, one of the most impressive examples of Land art in the UK.  The seven pyramidal ramps, commissioned by Motorola, are sited adjacent to the M8 motorway along a 1,000 feet corridor, referencing the past history of the area.  The landscape and environs influence her approach and use of materials:  The Seven Runes,an Art in Public places commission, in Pompano Beach, FL, consists of seven hewn fossilized coral and limestone structures sited in a retention pond, connoting a site of ritual, and connecting the surrounding environs with landscaped nature.  Passage, and Barum Stenning, both in collaboration with Del Geist, employ a similar approach.  Passage, commissioned by the GSA Art in Architecture Program, for the Roosville Border Station in Montana, bordering with Canada, extends along an area of 1,000 ft.  Eighteen earthworks evoke the glacial cirques and field of drumlins situated nearby.  Five Pre-Cambrian boulders are sited throughout, elevated on thin steel legs, to create a sense of movement - a metaphor of their history. Barum Stenning, commissioned by Devon County Council, Dept of the Environment, is integrated into the Barnstable Western Bypass, in Devon, UK, and pays homage to the Devonian period.  The artwork comprises of twelve stone and steel structures, 30ft long filled with ‘elevated’ Devonian Slate slabs.  Two Topiary ‘Hedgewalls’, 20ft high x 60ft long, are sited in the splitter islands on either side of the square-about, their minimal form creates a sense of grounding and quiet in contract to the ‘uplifted’ slate.

Leighton’s current projects, collaborating with Del Geist, include: the Lynx Blue Line Rail Extension commissioned by Charlotte Art in Transit System, the creation of major earthworks along the rail corridor within the University of North Carolina, Charlotte; and a major site-specific sculpture commissioned by the City and County of Denver, Public Art Program, where they will construct a series of sculptural markers throughout the development at Central Park Boulevard / I-70 Interchange in Denver.

Artist Statement

Patricia Leighton has been making art in the public realm for over 25 years, creating large-scale permanent commissions worldwide, which relate to the history of a given site and the relevant environmental and ecological conditions. 

Many of her projects relate to transportation and include elements such as: utilizing excess and available soil on site to create large earthwork sculptures, incorporating stone and indigenous materials to relate to the environment, creating feature markers to be viewed from the air, and siting progressive sculptures adjacent to freeways. 

She views the integration of art and site as a collaborative process, and works in tandem with a diverse creative team of professionals from fields such as ecology, engineering, architecture and landscape architecture.

Patricia’s Land-art functions on a number of levels, enabling a wide public to relate to the work. The earthworks and the freestanding sculptures reflect the historical and environmental specificity of their setting. Whether seen quickly from a vehicle, or pondered at length, the works captivate their audience and instill contemplation.

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