© Lesley D. McKenzie. All rights Reserved. Images may not be copied, reproduced or redistributed without the artist’s express written permission.
Born in Aberdeen in 1967 I initially trained as a graphic artist until in 1996 when I decided to start my own business, fusing my love of animals and nature with my artistic talents. I worked in a variety of mediums and while continuing to develop my skills I worked as a freelance sculptor for Border Fine Arts, creating well over 80 animal figurines, these figures were created from wax but I found clay to be my preferred sculpting medium.
My raku animal sculptures are all one off, handbuilt originals and are made using an earthenware clay which I mix to my own specification. All the sculptures must be hollow and are formed by wrapping a skin of clay around a paper maquette to create the basic body shape. I work into the surface forming the muscles and texture as the clay slowly dries. I have a very good knowledge of anatomy and a keen interest in all animal species, I often make my animals instinctively and know when they look right. I aim to capture the character of an animal and give my sculptures an essence of life.
When sculpting is complete the sculpture is then fully dried before being bisque fired then glazed. The piece is then fired in a gas raku kiln to 980oC, at this point the kiln door is opened and each piece is carefully removed by hand and placed a chamber containing sawdust, the red hot ceramic ignites the sawdust immediately. The chamber is sealed and when all the oxygen is used the fire suffocates leaving a thick acrid smoke to penetrate the hot ceramic surface, all unglazed areas and cracks in the glaze will absorb the smoke, resulting in a rich crackle glaze and natural smokey finish.
I often use glazes containing copper oxide which react to the oxygen levels resulting in a bronze effect glaze with subtle colour variations and dry glazes which give a semi-matt natural appearance.
My paintings are bold and vibrant. Acrylic is my medium of choice as I like the brilliance of colour and the rapid drying time suits my spontanius animal portraits while also allowing me to build layers of colur quickly on more complex landscapes.
I have won many awards and competitions with my work over the years and have exhibited at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. I am continuing to expand my gallery base with my work being collected both nationally and internationally.