Enjoy a journey through Natural Encounters listening to a series of short talks from the team at Leeds Art Gallery. The exhibition spans 400 years of nature in art, exploring the different strategies artists have used to approach, interpret or respond to nature. In Talking: Natural Encounters, staff and the gallery’s Youth Collective share their personal response and interpretation of individual artworks and invite you to do the same. The series was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic.


A talk by Amanda Phillips, Learning & Access Officer

Gillian Ayres, Helios, 1990. Oil on canvas. Bought with the aid of grants from The Art Fund and MLA/V&A, 1991. © the artist’s estate.

Our first talk examines the bright and beautiful Helios by Gillian Ayres, including insights into how the work has inspired young audiences at Leeds Art Gallery.

Ash Dome

A talk by Laura Claveria, Assistant Curator

David Nash, Ash Dome, 1977. © the artist.

In this detailed talk, we discuss how David Nash has created a significant and varied body of work, in which the relationship between humans and nature is a central theme.

Music of the Spheres

A talk by Angie Thompson, Youth Engagement Officer

Halima Cassell, Music of the Spheres, Series I, 2011. Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund, 2012. © Halima Cassell.

Halima Cassell creates a mood and feeling of dynamic tension in her work, pushing the boundaries of material to its limits as told through Music of the Spheres (Series 1).

Outcast Coal Production

A talk by Erin Saunders of the Youth Collective

Graham Sutherland, Outcast Coal Production: Excavators Uncovering Coal Seam, c.1943. Given by the War Artists` Advisory Committee, 1947.

Graham Sutherland’s abstract landscapes depict a greatly individualist and personal response to nature. We discover how they capture the grisly and poignant legacy of the Second World War.

Power to the People

A talk by Holly Grange, Exhibitions Curator

John Atkinson Grimshaw, Tree Shadows on the Park Wall (Roundhay), 1872. Gifted by Joseph Boehrer Charles, 1972.

Discover how one artist, one mayor and thousands of citizens secured a park for the people of Leeds.

Featuring a special guest cameo from Leeds comic, musician and poet Micky P Kerr.

Walking & Marking

A talk by Lucy Couch, Visitor Assistant

Arran Hilltops, 1978. Purchased in 1980.

Two works in the Natural Encounters exhibition are a record of an artist walking or marking the landscape of a particular time or place. Discover more about the selected works by Richard Long and Hamish Fulton.

The Tree of Life

A talk by Jonny Kidd, Visitor Assistant

Scottie Wilson, The Tree of Life with Fish, c.1950s. All efforts have been made to trace family members and possible copyright-holders. In this instance this has not been possible as the rightsholders are indeterminate. If you have further information please contact [email protected]

Delve into the fascinating life of the self-taught outsider artist Scottie Wilson. he left a legacy of innovative artwork and an attitude that wahetever your age or background, you can create art as you want.

Atkinson Grimshaw and the inspiration of nature

A talk by Megan Dobbyn, Visitor Assistant

John Atkinson Grimshaw, A Dead Linnet, 1862. Purchased with support from V&A purchase grant fund, the Art Fund and an anonymous donor, 1997.

John Atkinson Grimshaw was largely inspired by nature, especially in his earlier works. This talk focuses on Dead Linnet, a macabre yet eerily beautiful painting produced in 1862.

Medicine Wheel

A talk by Natascha Clissold, Visitor Assistant

Chris Drury, Medicine Wheel, 1982–3. Gifted by the artist, 1987. © Chris Drury – www.chrisdrury.co.uk

Uncover the inspiration behind Chris Drury’s environmental art with a particular focus on Medicine Wheel. Created over one year, the sculpture is a tangible record of the changing seasons in the English countryside and emotionally challenging times in the artists life.

A Winter Experience

A talk by Christabel Mitchell, Visitor Assistant

Andrew Sabin, Penn Ponds in Winter, 1989. Purchased with support from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 1994. © the artist.

What is this puzzling meringue like piece covered in barnacles and a chessboard? This talk considers Andrew Sabin’s inspiration in creating the playful and mysterious sculpture Penn Ponds in Winter.

Researching the practice of Veronica Ryan

A talk by Maya Jagger of the Youth Collective

Veronica Ryan, Untitled (from the series Lamentations in the Garden), 2000–2001. Photocopies of a photograph from a family album, painted with acrylic paint, with bags of pins and dress collar © Veronica Ryan. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

An exploration of grief through the work of Veronia Ryan, considering different approaches and a brief history of the artists life.

Inspiring oak trees

A talk by Megan Dobbyn, Visitor Assistant

John N. Rhodes, The Cowthorpe Oak, Wetherby, Yorkshire, 1840.

Oak trees, gods of the forest, ancient spaces for worship, meeting spaces and creative inspiration. This talk focuses on local oak trees and their connection to the Leeds Art Gallery collection.

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