Originally from London, Tara Leaver is an artist and online course teacher living by the sea in Cornwall, UK.  After completing a Foundation Diploma in London in her early twenties, there was a pause in her creative life while she lived with, and subsequently recovered from, long term clinical depression, and spent 6 years teaching in a Montessori school. As part of her recovery, she returned to painting in 2008, embarking on a period of study and development, both formally and privately. Having two strands to her work,  her own practice and teaching, brings a rich diversity to her life as an artist.
She is happiest near, or preferably, in the sea, where she swims regularly. Her paintings aim to express the experience of being immersed in salt water, surrounded by the natural world. The way the body feels in water, brought into the present by constant motion, alive with sensory abundance. Her paintings are a distillation of this multi-sensory experience.  She says: “There is nothing like being waterborne under a wide sky, with creatures and plant life passing above and below; a full 360 of immersion.”
Working back in her studio, from photos taken underwater during her sea swims, Tara combines liquid, dynamic paint layers of varying consistencies with fleeting, but more carefully drawn, glimpses of recognisable elements. Together they form a kind of eclectic, expressive shorthand; the layered pleasures of immersion in water.  She says of her underwater swimming experiences:
“I started swimming outdoors a couple of years ago, first in an outdoor pool surrounded by nature, and then later, in the sea off Battery Rocks in Penzance. A whole world opened up, literally beneath my feet.

Sea swimming is nourishing on every possible level - physically, emotionally, mentally, creatively. But for me it’s the physical sensory experience combined with the absolutely mesmerizing life under the waves that makes me go back time and time again. The sense of aliveness, the way it brings me immediately both back to myself and beyond myself in the moment, unlocks the same part of me that immersing in the painting process does.

I did not expect such an abundant garden beneath the surface! I had a very basic underwater camera, and started taking hundreds of photos of the life below the waves on my daily swims. Depending on how choppy the water is, the photos can be quite clear or very blurry. Sometimes the blur makes for the most unexpected and striking aquatic abstracts.”

She has exhibited in galleries in Sussex and Cornwall, and her work is owned by private collectors around the world.


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