By Loretta Leigh
A portrait of
Oil on linen
35cm x 36cm
About the artist
Loretta Leigh has always wanted to be an artist. As a child and teenager she devoured art classes and was awarded a scholarship by the National Gallery of Australia in 1999. She became conflicted growing up, balancing the need to work as an artist, and the need to earn an income. Leigh says: "Unfortunately as a young adult, I lost my faith. I let the voices of society tell me that pursuing fine art was a mistake and would lead to a life of poverty in a difficult world." She gave up art for 10 years but without art in her life she struggled with anxiety and inauthenticity. "The road back to a life in art has taught me to accept myself just as I am," says Leigh. "That I am worthy of pursuing my passions, no matter the outcome."
The artist represents themselves.
About the sitter
Leigh says of her work: "The Cape is a self portrait addressing the chasm in myself between making income and making art. I work as a private escort, earning a lucrative income and traveling often to visit my benefactors. But what looks like a somewhat idyllic lifestyle creates a division in me. My job both makes it possible for me to afford to make visual art and also means I have to transform into another person much of the time. I shield my introverted, hippy self and cloak myself in the identity of an international muse. It is a performance that both nourishes and destroys me. In The Cape, I have painted myself in the daggy studio clothes I would usually wear to make work. But a flash of my long, red manicured nail and the tattooed bare skin beneath hints at my other persona. I tilt my chin upward in defiance of both having to put on the cape, and anyone who dares to judge me for my choices."