In The Moment is a joint exhibition between Gallery 1C03 at the University of Winnipeg and Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba. The exhibition acknowledges the generous donations of artwork to the respective university collections by the late Manitoba artist Winston Leathers (1932-2004).
Leathers had a clear idea of what he wished to donate. He wanted to endow each institution with separate and distinct bodies of work to strengthen the collections.
In 2001 Leathers gave Gallery 1C03 28 pieces produced between 1963 and 1983, including several prints from his important Cosmic Variations series of the early-1970s. The Gallery 1C03 exhibition highlights work from Cosmic Variations as well as images produced immediately prior to that series.
Many of these works employ innovative fluorographic and metallic inks that were intended to be viewed under black light conditions as well as regular incandescent lighting. They were created following a printmaking fellowship in England that was awarded to Leathers in 1967-68 by the Canada Council for the Arts.
A number of the images displayed in Gallery 1C03 incorporate calligraphic markings. They reflect Leathers' abiding interest in the teachings of Zen philosophy, with its emphasis on being fully present in the moment and discovering one's own inner nature.
The success of the Cosmic Variations prints spawned spin-offs that enabled Leathers to showcase his strong graphic designs on a much larger scale. In 1972 the artist oversaw the execution of a massive outdoor mural painted on the north wall of the former Odeon Theatre in downtown Winnipeg as part of the "Artwalls" public art project. Two years later the architectural firm IKOY Group commissioned Leathers to create the wall-size print Cosmic Variation. This piece is displayed prominently in the Gallery 1C03 exhibition.
Throughout his career, Leathers constantly experimented in his work with different techniques, media and technologies. In the 1960s Leathers and fellow University of Manitoba School of Art graduate John Kenneth Esler pioneered the collograph printmaking technique in Canada. From various found materials affixed to a printing plate, Leathers produced embossed abstract prints that possess a deep emotional intensity and textural richness.
In 2002 Leathers donated 25 collograph prints and 5 collograph plates to Gallery One One One. The Gallery One One One exhibition features a selection of these exceptional prints produced in the mid-1960s and examples of the accompanying plates.
The natural environment was a driving force in Leathers' abstraction. His exploration of the abstract forms found in nature continued with the Hidden Landscape series. In the late-1980s Leathers collaborated with photographer Wayne Foster, who used macrophotography techniques to create Cibachrome prints from mineral elements and liquids fused between glass plates.
Leathers' fascination with light, colour and form and his quest toward pure abstraction in his art are evident in the Hidden Landscape series, which was originally presented at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture in 1989. The Gallery One One One exhibition includes a selection of the 16 prints from this series, donated by Leathers.
Special thanks to Kathleen Leathers, Wayne Foster, Claude de Forest, Cliff Eyland, Oliver Botar, Ann Davis, Collin Zipp, Glen Johnson, Patricia E. Bovey, Sherna and Gerald Posner, The University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture, and the Manitoba Arts Council.
Jennifer Gibson, Curator, Gallery 1C03