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Sisters with a passion for art
Sisters Irene Leach and Tina Perchard inhabit quite different landscapes but share a common understanding of art as a therapeutic experience and creative release.
Irene is a special needs teacher at St Luke’s School in her home town of Redbourn, while Tina has resided in Jersey for the past 20 years. Now the creative duo are staging their first joint exhibition, Juxtapositions , in the Apthorp Gallery at the Radlett Centre.
The pair grew up in St Albans where Tina, the eldest by 16 years, brought her family before moving to Jersey to work as a clinical psychologist and study part time at art college.
“The exhibition is in memory of our dad Kimon,“ Tina explains. “Living far away from each other and with our brother up in the Lake District, it’s been difficult to arrange a proper memorial. Our mother died when Irene was 13 and we became like the three musketeers.“
Travel has been a shared experience that is reflected in both of the sisters’ works. Irene was born in Africa and Tina in Egypt.
“Our parents moved around a lot but we all came back to be educated in England. Irene went to boarding school in Harrow and had holidays in St Albans with me.
“I became her guardian and used to encourage her about her art. Now she’s an art teacher, which I’m very proud of.“
I ask Tina which of Irene’s pieces she likes best.
“For some reason we both share a strong passion for the sea. Irene is absolutely brilliant at representing that. She’s made this wonderful oil painting of what looks like an aerial view of reef and it has this beautiful turquoise colour. We both share a love of nature and travel a lot, which has affected the way we see things.“
Irene works with photography and mixed media and Tina with textiles.
“I’m a very tactile person,“ adds Tina. “Sitting with a brush and being separate from the work doesn’t do it for me. I like to work quickly, to have a picture emerge and to overlay the textures using different media such as fabric, gems and wools. I like to touch the material I use.“
For the show the sisters have created two contrasting works in the same format – mini 3D installations assembled from found objects – Tina has chosen a woodland theme, while Irene’s is a beach scene. “I try to collect images from anywhere that’s near water,“ says Irene. “I spend a lot of time on the Thames on our boat with a camera and sketch book. My pieces are half photography and half mixed media painting.“
Irene is currently specialising in teaching children with dyslexia and says the work she does with colour and texture is of benefit to the pupils.
“I started as a teaching assistant in 1995 and ended up doing teacher training there before going into mainstream education. Three years later I came back and have now been at St Luke’s for four years, so I’ve come full circle and can give something back, which is really important to me as the school has been very supportive of everything I’ve done.“
Tina also finds her work of benefit to her career.
“Working in psychology and psychopathology is very intense and you absorb a lot of energy from others. I use art as a way to express feelings and emotions.
“We all have a certain medium for self expression, be it art, singing, music or gardening. It’s a channel that can leave us feeling better as it’s not just a thinking process but a doing process."
Juxtapositions is at the Radlett Centre, Aldenham Avenue, Radlett until Friday, August 31. Details: 01923 857546