The last three years have seen an increased demand for mental health services including LifelineNZ who receive an estimated 300 calls and 1000 texts a day from people struggling with stress, anxiety, monetary pressures, loneliness and depression. Of these calls and texts, 15-20 are made by people at high risk of suicide.
Leigh Schneider’s debut exhibition ‘Beyond the Shadows’ gathers together a selection of the artist's works on topics such as loss, isolation, sadness and depression; inviting the viewer to look deeper into the symbolism of the images, which point at a way forwards.
Born in the Waikato but now living in Germany, the internationally published photographer tackles emotions many of us have struggled with. Emotions that may see people reach out to services like LifeLineNZ. Initially the works may be perceived as dark, however on closer inspection they reveal hope: hope for the future, hope for compassion and hope for each other.
“While my work might appear on the surface to be dark aesthetically, the core of my concepts focusses on the light. I’m inspired by the idea of a world beyond what we immediately see, as well as human emotion and the capacity we all have for transformation and growth. For this reason, I don’t really think of my work as ‘dark,’ as much as ‘stealthily optimistic.’”
Featuring 12 framed limited edition photographic works, the collection has been completed over a period of three years. The collection is available to view at Quirky Fox, both online and in their High Street, Hawera gallery with the artist and gallery coming together to donate a portion of the proceeds to LifelineNZ:
“LifelineNZ receives no government funding while offering 24/7 services to those in need, both Leigh and myself recognise that in the darkest moments an anonymous, unbiased listening ear can make a difference. While we have both donated privately, we thought this was an opportunity to show the power art can have and make a donation greater than we could individually.”
For Schneider, it was an opportunity to partner with a local organisation, specialising in helping those who struggle in some of the areas the artworks address:
“I‘ve always wanted to create work that was meaningful, not only in it’s content - but in a tangle, real world way. Work that could encourage and impact those who need it most. By donating a portion of the profits of this show, we invite collectors to direct contribute to this cause alongside us.”
While each work stands on its own, some tell a story across several pieces such as the three pieces that form the ‘messengers’ series: a series which is about being in a dark place and the 'Messengers' we carry with us—our personal patrons of the future. Always there, not always acknowledged.
In addition to the exhibition, the gallery will host an artist talk with Schneider, Saturday 18 February. Places are limited and the gallery and artist request a donation to attend which will be passed on to LifelineNZ. Places may be reserved by contacting the gallery via email or phoning 06 278 6909.
‘Beyond the Shadows’ is available to view at Quirky Fox, 205a High Street, Hawera or online. The exhibition ends 25 February.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Leigh Schneider is a Conceptual Fine Art Photographer. Born in 1986, she grew up between a small town in farmland Waikato, New Zealand and remote desert in the Outback of Queensland, Australia.
Her interest in photography started at the age of sixteen, when she won a regional competition for analogue portraiture. Leigh went on to gain a Bachelor’s in Computer Graphic Design, working in the field for a decade. In 2017, after a house robbery resulted in the loss of all her work, she decided to reinvest the insurance payout into her first full-frame digital camera. From there, she began to self-teach Fine Art Photography and fell in love with the process and possibilities of the digital medium.
Leigh has worked commercially as a Fine Art Photographer and Art Director, creating cover art for professional musicians and the image world for a German creative agency.
Leigh's work has been awarded and published internationally. Most recently, Leigh’s piece ‘A Wing and a Prayer’ saw her named as a finalist in Beautiful Bizarre’s 2022 Annual Art Prize. Her image ‘Pupae’ appeared in print, in Issue 38 of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine Leigh currently resides near Frankfurt, Germany, with her husband.