Artists Virginia Leonard

Virginia Leonard

b. 1965 Auckland
Lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand

“I have sought a voice for my own pain. These objects are my body”

Virginia Leonard’s ceramics delight in the visceral. The large vessel-like structures recall domestic everyday items, yet the familiar shapes of vases, jugs, and urns are abstracted, morphed into melting masses of sticky resin and bulging lumps. Oozing clay, resin, and glaze forms are fired mid drip, capturing the precarious nature of Leonard’s physical approach to manipulating her chosen material, which she sees as a proxy for her own body. Her practice is primarily autobiographical, with the pummeling and massaging actions a way to better articulate her personal experience with chronic pain. After more than a decade as an abstract painter, Leonard made the shift to working with clay in 2013, driven by the need to give a voice to bodily trauma saying “chronic pain has no biological value…it lacks both language and voice. The language of my clay making is my attempt to rid my body of trauma and reduce my level of chronic pain.”

Virginia Leonard holds a Masters of Fine Arts from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design which she completed in 2001. In 2019 she won the Artist-in-Residence Prize in Finland, Open to Art Ceramic Award, Officine Saffi, Milan, Italy, and was the recipient of the Glass House/Stone House Residency in Chenaud, France. In 2017 she won the Ceramic residency at Guldagergaard, Denmark.  She won the Merit Award in the 2015 Portage Ceramic Awards, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland. Leonard’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout Australasia and internationally, including exhibitions in Switzerland, Italy, USA, and Denmark. Her profile is featured in the influential Thames and Hudson book 100 Sculptures of Tomorrow, and her work is held in numerous public and private collections worldwide, including Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, The James Wallace Arts Trust, Auckland, and the prestigious Ann G. Tenenbaum Collection, New York.

Gow Langsford Gallery has represented Virginia Leonard since 2020.

Virginia Leonard


2001 Master of Fine Arts, Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design, Auckland
1990 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design, Auckland

selected exhibitions

Download full Curriculum Vitae

2020 Maison Louis Carré, Taste Contemporary, France, June 2020 (upcoming)
The Cook and Her Driver, Gertrude Glasshouse, Melbourne, Australia

2019 Gloria, Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney, Australia
miart, Taste Contemporary, Milan, Italy

2018 I Come Out Of Surgery Looking Golden; Virginia Leonard with Gretchen Albrecht, Two Rooms, Auckland, New Zealand
It Only Hurts When I Bend, Mindy Solomon Gallery, Miami, USA
All I Want is a Facelift, Objectspace, Auckland, New Zealand
Melbourne Art Fair, PAULNACHE, Melbourne, Australia
Auckland Art Fair, PAULNACHE, Auckland, New Zealand
artgenève, Taste Contemporary, Geneva, Switzerland

2017 Installation Contemporary, Sydney Contemporary, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia
Galerie Wolfsen, Denmark
Farvestralende Keramik, Guldagergaard, Denmark