For two long years Lee Boyd painted clouds. Nothing else- just clouds. Almost every day he would take his easel and brushes and head for a favoured spot overlooking the beautiful Benone strand on the north coast and wait for the breeze to blow the cumulus and nimbus clouds in from the Atlantic Ocean. As he explained to the Bangor and North Down Camera Club it was an expression of his personal quest for artistic fulfilment that he had previously failed to find. The Middlesborough artist had come to Northern Ireland to study ceramics at the New University of Ulster but after graduating he had taken a post as a jewellery designer in Southampton where he ended up in a managerial position, financially successful but artistically sidetracked.
Heading back to Northern Ireland he trained as a stonemason and found an outlook for his creative aspirations in pottery and sculpture although, as he admitted to the club members there was still a missing component in his artistic quest – this he was to find in oil painting and the pursuit of the qualities inherent in abstract art. The dalliance with the clouds satisfied his desire to interpret the physical world as an artistic statement with a personal style.
The next stage of his developing awareness came with a desire to draw from life and he began rather humbly by sketching his cat – a willing model but limited in its possibilities so after success in a nationwide BBC wildlife competition he began to formulate the strand which now forms the basis of his artistic output – drawing humans with animal heads. Displaying a selection of these, at times bizarre hybrids Lee explained that he would study the humans first before deciding which animals’ heads best suited them in both a physical and characteristic manner. Friends and fellow artists appeared with owls, kangaroos and anteaters’ heads supplanted on their bodies and interest began to grow as a result of exhibitions and online exposure. A top local band commissioned a cover for their new album and were delighted with the stunning half-creatures, half musicians result.
Lee also explained the difficulties involved in sketching people from life – many subjects are reluctant to have their likeness recorded and it usually is too time-consuming to be practical so he enlisted the aid of his Iphone to record the initial image on occasions before applying his own, idiosyncratic interpretation on the picture. He sees no conflict of interest in using a camera for this purpose pointing out that an artist as eminent as David Hockney has earned universal appraisal for his photographically engendered works over the years.
He ended his engaging talk with a regretful acceptance that people don’t take time to see art any more. Even though they may go to a gallery and look at works generally a cursory glance is all that is afforded – a state of affairs Lee Boyd ascribed to the incessant bombardment of images, via television and the internet to which we are bombarded on a daily basis.


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