Lesley Drummond is an artist, educator and curator who has been actively involved in the Arts Community of the Kawartha Lakes for close to 30 years.
Lesley majored in painting (with drawing, printmaking, sculpture and a fair bit of Art History rounding out her experience) at Queen’s University in Kingston. She gathered valuable experience in the Toronto art world by working as a summer student at the Harbourfront Art Gallery, doing contract work with the Ydessa Gallery, and then spent two wonderful years working in the commercial art scene at Gallery Moos.
From 1998 – 2000 she was “Artist in the Park” (artist in residence) at Wakami Lake, Ivanhoe and Lake Superior Provincial Parks. Over the last thirty years, her works have been featured in many showings and exhibitions throughout the Kawarthas and can be found in a number of private collections across Canada.
Her personal choice of media include acrylics, gouache, pencil, charcoal, chalk pastels, and photography. Subject matter tends towards all things dealing with space – architectural structures, landscapes and textured abstracted surfaces. Her current works involve experimentation through inclusion of photo transfers and collage.
Until her retirement in June 2015, Lesley was the Head of Visual and Media Arts at I.E. Weldon Secondary School, teaching main stream Art, Art History and Applied Design. She was a senior member of the Trillium Lakelands Arts Camp steering committee where she was the Head of Visual Arts for ten years. She is currently the Director of the Kawartha Arts Network in Lindsay, a co-operative of local artists funded by its members, and spends her “spare” time doing trainings for Girl Guides of Canada and renovating an old stone house.
What drew you to the arts—to study painting at Queens U? What were your early art inspirations?
Art was always one of those things I loved and was good at in school…. It seemed a natural path to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts at university, although I didn’t initially plan to be a teacher. I had hoped to take on the post-grad Art Restoration program, but put that aside when I discovered that university chemistry just didn’t make me a happy camper! Doing Fine Arts with a minor in Art History led to gallery work in Toronto, which led to my chosen career of teaching.
As a secondary school teacher, your students’ art has been featured in Style At Home magazine, and you’ve influenced the lives of so very many students through your work. What value does art have for youth?
Art is an essential part of a child’s experience. It allows kids to let their inner-selves out, to do things they didn’t think were possible, to learn how to problem solve and analyze. Art broadens their perspective and helps them understand their world. It reaches the intellectual students as well as the free spirits, and there are very few individuals who cannot achieve success at some area of Visual Arts. Weldon has had a tremendous number of students go on to be wildly successful in many areas of the Arts and it’s been a pleasure to be part of their journey.
What is Kawartha Arts Network (KAN) and Art on Kent? And what are your roles within those organizations?
KAN is a non-profit artists’ co-operative in the Kawartha Lakes area, focusing on networking of artists, providing educational opportunities for members and the general public through artist sharing and classes such as life drawing or digital photography, bringing awareness of local arts to the public and providing exhibition opportunities for all artists. I have been the Director of KAN for eight years.
Art on Kent has been our permanent exhibition space for the last nine or so years. Unfortunately – due to difficulties getting time commitment from members for gallery sitting and committee work – we are looking at closing the space after our next two shows. This does NOT mean the end of KAN! We will continue the co-operative and organize pop-up exhibitions, have plein air days, meet for sharing socials, and continue to run classes when possible. We will continue to be a “force” on the Kawartha arts scene and hope to have a new space down the line. Membership opportunities in our new format will be put out to the public towards the end of June.
How do you determine when an artist’s work is show-worthy and professional? How does an artist make the leap from amateur to professional?
Difficult question! Curating the exhibitions, we have to decide: does the work show technical skill? Does the artist have a good sense of composition? Do they exhibit knowledge of how to work with the chosen medium? Have they taken care in presenting the work as professionally as possible? There is also a fine line between naïve art and amateur art. It’s a judgment call on the part of those who have been around a long time in the field, seen a great deal of work, and are recognized by others as being able to make that call about “professionalism.” And one has to remember that art doesn’t have to be pretty to be powerful or effective or have quality.
What value does an Art Gallery or Artists’ Society have for a community?
Art is an essential part of any community. It captures our thoughts, emotions and our world and puts forth new ideas about how to understand or see that world. This educates and stimulates people both positively and negatively, making the public appreciate and think – an important position.
Galleries and arts organizations allow artists opportunities to get their work out to the public, as well as network to foster that part of a community and expand its knowledge.
As a board member for the Kawartha Lakes Arts Council where do you believe the future is with community arts boards? How can they impact a community?
I think their main roles are to make the public aware of this wonderful resource that exists under its nose, to educate artists and the public in matters relating to art that can be expanded to other community areas – such as using social media, getting funding for a variety of purposes, etc. – and networking artists and arts organizations. I believe boards like KLAC are an essential part of every community.
What role would you like to see KLAC play in the community and in the region?
I think KLAC is doing a great job – it educates, it links, it advocates for the arts, it promotes understanding and has done a commendable job in getting the local city council to recognize the importance of these resources in our community. Onward and upward! I hope that those who believe as strongly as we do in the role of culture in a community will get on board with us – KLAC and other local arts organizations grow monthly so this is a very positive sign for continuing to enrich the Kawarthas through the Arts.
Thank you, Lesley! To view more of Lesley's work, visit her member page.