HELEN LEETE loves to make sculptures, and her works often delight and inspire collectors. These days she works mainly in bronze.
She is also well known for her public sculptures around Sydney, which include “Earthmother” in the Royal Botanic Gardens, near the Opera House, “Oceanides” in the ocean, off Fairy Bower, “Arched Back Bather” at Manly, “Kata Tjuta Earth Ancestors” in Bancroft Sculpture Park, Roseville, “Landscape Form” Macquarie University, etc. There are also many semi-public commissioned works in public places, like the “Naiad Fountain” Crescent Garden, Cockle Bay Wharf; “Bronze Tantra” Darling Park; “Tall Forms” Unidata Foyer, North Sydney; The UNICEF sculpture; “Tennis Form,” Foyer, Lindfield Centre; “Earth Ancestors” Gallery 460 Sculpture Park; “The Three Graces”, “Bronze Lotus Fountain” and several other sculptures at Gillian Adam’s Day Spa, “Madonna and Child” on the Façade of Brigidine Chapel, ‘ Holy Family” at Lindfield,“The Arched Back Bather” in the atrium of the Manly Pacific Hotel etc. But the vast majority of her bronze sculptures, including several fountain complexes, are in private collections and gardens in Australia, Britain, America, Japan, Italy and Singapore.
Despite the wide variety of works, she has developed a distinctive voice, so that people instantly recognize her style, or range of styles. Especially the “landscape forms” and the tall semi-figurative forms. The “Landscape Figures” are huge reclining single or double figures which echo the forms and contours of the natural landscape… The unique building up technique echoes geological layering of different colours and textures over eons. The style of these works is unique, no-one anywhere works in this style and medium.
Tall semi-abstract forms are another authentic “voice.” Several of her public sculptures are in this style – the most popular being the “Sea Nymphs” or “Oceanides” at Manly, and there are several fountain variations of “Naiads” or Fresh Water Spirits, as well as “Dryads” or Tree spirit, all tall forms, nearly abstract, but with some engagement with the human form.
Academically she matriculated dux of her year, studied for a B.A. Fine Arts at Cape Town University, Post Graduate studies in Sculpture at College of Fine Art, University of N.S.W., Bronze Sculpture and Ceramics at the National Art School, Sydney, and History of Art at Cambridge University, England, with high distinctions for her dissertations. She taught H.S.C. Art for many years.
At University and with her students over the years, she explored cutting edge art forms like installations, happenings, conceptual art, art provera, etc, but gradually in recent years she gravitated back towards formalism, and art which has a presence and state of being, and collectable bronzes, even, now and then, some quite realistic figurative work!
Yet some of her most recent work has again engaged in social/political issues and installations, which interact with social and philosophical controversies. Several installations and conceptual works explore dichotomies and interactions between opposites, and often juxtapose realistic figurative work with abstract formal pieces. She has exhibited widely, both one man and group shows, including four Sculpture by the Sea shows, and has been short listed for the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery Of NSW.
She has won many awards and first prizes for sculpture in recent years, including the Art Gallery Society Prize for a site Specific installation, “Is Classicism Dead and Buried in the Sands of Time?” at the 2003 Sculpture by the Sea. She spent part of 2005 overseas, but won a prize for the installation she exhibited on her return
EARTHMOTHER: ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS: near the Sydney Opera House.
ARCHED BACK BATHER. Manly Beach. (now Manly Pacific Hotel)
SEA NYMPHS, OR OCEANIDES. Fairy Bower Pool, Manly.
KATA TJUTA EARTH ANCESTORS: Bancroft Park, Roseville.
LANDSCAPE FORM: Macquarie University Sculpture Park.
MADONNA AND CHILD Façade, Brigidine Chapel
TWO TALL FORMS: Foyer, Unidata Building, North Sydney.
BRONZE TANTRA: Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Park.
NAIADS: Fountain of the Water Nymphs. Crescent Garden, Darling Park
ABBOTSLEIGH SCULPTURE . “Reaching for the Stars”
BRONZE SCULPTURE FOR UNICEF
MENTOR AND MUSE: Ravenswood
TENNIS MEMORIAL: Lindfield Centre.
Many works and fountains in private collections or gardens in Australia, Britain, America, Italy, and Singapore,
Japan, as well as several works in semi-public spaces like day spas, boardrooms and offices.
SOME PRIZES AND AWARDS
THURSDAY PLANTATION EAST COAST SCULPTURE SHOW 2005: prize for “Derriere Phobics get a bum Steer”
SCULPTURE BY THE SEA 2003: ART GALLERY SOCIETY PRIZE. (SITE SPECIFIC) for “Is Classicism Dead and Buried in the Sands of Time?”
Sort listed for the WYNNE PRIZE ART GALLERY OF NSW for “Earthmother”
FIRST PRIZE ABSTRACT SCULPTURE. Royal Art Show, 2000 for “Primaeval Form”
First Prize FOR ABSTRACT SCULPTURE R.A.S. 1999 for “Abstract Variations on the Theme of an Arched Back Bather”
PEOPLE’S CHOICE PRIZE, Southern Elements Sculpture Show 2002 for “Aquarius”
PEOPLE’S CHOICE PRIZE: East Coast Sculpture Show 1999 for “Large Bronze Tantra”
MOSMAN CENTENARY SCULPTURE PRIZE: for “Five Forms Folded For Fun.”
HUNTERS HILL SCULPTURE PRIZE: FIRST PRIZE 1992 for “The War is going to Schedule.”
CERAMIC STUDY GROUP AWARD OF EXCELLENCE, Sculpture for “Mythic Form”
Two prizes, Royal Easter Show, 2001 for “Reach” and “Landscape Form”
Runner-up Sculpture Prize in East Coast Sculpture Show, 1997, for “Three Tree Spirits”
Hunters Hill Sculpture Prize: V.H.C. for “Landscape Form”
Royal Sydney Sculpture Prize 1993: 2nd.
Sydney Royal Open Sculpture Prize, 1989: FIRST PRIZE
C.E.S.C.O. prize for best in all classes.
POST GRADUATE DIPLOMA IN VISUAL ARTS.1990-1992
College of Fine Arts. University of NSW.
B.A. FINE ARTS. University of Cape Town.
Studies at CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY, England. 1991 and 1996 (awarded FIRST (high distinction) each time for thesis)
Studies at National Art School: Bronze Sculpture and Ceramics.
2005: Thursday Plantation 10th Anniversary Show (invitation to former prizewinners only)
2004: 3 Conceptual installations. Bancroft Gallery
2004:Sculptors who Draw (mixed) Trevor Victor Harvey Gallery, Manly
2004: ASX Exhibition National Art School
2004: East Coast Sculpture Show. Thursday Plantation Ballina
2003: Sculpture by the Sea
2003: Sydney in Bloom. Domain, Sydney
2003: ASX FONAS Exhibition Cell Block Theatre, National Art School.
2002: Southern Elements Sculpture.
Also usual Sculptors Society exhibition at Darling Park, Tutors Show etc
2001: SCULPTURE BY THE SEA. Retrospective touring Regional Galleries, Cambelltown, Hazelhurst, Wollongong.
2001: Bronzes: Inaugural exhibition, Australian Bronze Sculpture House.
2001: Tutors Show. Kuringai Art Centre, Roseville
2001: Artisans in the Garden. Mixed show, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.
2001 : Sculptors Society 50th Anniversary Exhibition (mixed.)
2000: Helen Leete: Unity in Diversity. Kuringai Art Gallery.
2000: Darling Park and Parliament House mixed Sculptors Society shows
2000: Paradise Found: Installation based on Daintree. Kuringai Gallery.
2000: Dante in Australia, A B C Centre
1999: Darling Park, Mixed exhibition, Sydney
1999: One man guest sculptor, Body and Soul: Watchtower, Balmain.
1998: Lake Macquarie Regional Gallery
1998: The Body, Kuringai Art Gallery
1998: Sculpture in the City. Darling Park, Sydney
1998: Sculpture by the Sea
1997: Sculpture by the Sea: Finalist
1996 : Barry Stern Gallery, Paddington
1997, 1996, 1995 and 1994: SCULPTURE. Parliament House, Sydney.
1995: Sept: Invitation Sculpture Exhibition. Botanic Gardens.
1995:: First Impressions. Beaver Gallery, Canberra.
1995: Women Artists. Porter Gallery, Sydney.
1994: DANTE in Australia. Victorian Art Centre, Melbourne
1994: Unity and Diversity. Toast Gallery, Sydney.
1994: Invitation Spring Festival, BOTANIC GARDENS
1994: Selected Sculptors: P.L.C. Pymble.
1994: Museo Dante Aligairi: Ravenna, ITALY.
1993: Allegro Gallery.
1993: A.B.C. Centre, Sydney.
1992: Allegro Gallery.
1991: College of Fine Arts. Uni NSW. (Installation)
1990: OVOID VOIDS Holdsworth Gallery Woollahra.
TEACHING AND LECTURING
Teaching at: P.L.C. Pymble. Brigidine College St Ives
H.S.C. Senior Visual Arts Co-ordinator 22yrs
Art appreciation: Willoughby Art Centre.
Currently Sculpture Tutor : Kuringai Art Centre.
Also writing and/or illustrating 15 children’s books and educational works
Director 1991 – 2002
Vice President: 1998 – 2002