Leah Downing’s art embodies an alliance between science and art, exploring aesthetic properties found within chemistry and the cosmos. Influenced by science fiction and portrayals of space, the unseen is made visible and false landscapes are produced.
Leah’s work has appeared in 7 exhibitions, including Saatchi’s online Life Aquatic Collection, in addition to being one of 20 artists shortlisted for the 'Works in Print' Art Graduate Prize. Furthermore she won second prize for the Glendonbrook Enterprise and Innovation Award 2014, and is exhibited in private collections in both the UK and the USA.
Inspired by Runge’s perspective of chemistry, as a ‘sensory art’, observing and synthesising natural effects and patterns, rather than being unduly analytical. By studying hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions made observable through dye, structural formation and false colouring, her designs are presented as a static image, in an aesthetic manner; this is analogous to mankind’s exploration of space, inaugurated by the Hubble Space Telescope. Space imagery permits a vision into the unknown that humans could never otherwise experience; science links to art through the shared trait of observation, united by the image. The invention of the telescope allowed mankind to consider objects previously unseen, however, we assume these Hubble images are reality. Hubble collects digital data invisible to the eye; the finalised image requires preferences to be made regarding colour to make visible the unseen. What is actually in space is not what we see in Hubble images.
She experiments with simple reactions and dye which are then used to create fabricated landscapes through digital painting. The work no longer displays a still of reality, but a composite image displaying a fusion of chemical reactions and paint; amalgamating science and artistic license. These fictitious realms are then presented using circular lightboxes, as a final product. Comparable to a telescope, it acts as a window to these worlds, whilst also imbuing the work with the power of technology.