Programme: Painting - BA (Hons)

Year: 2016

2016 Painting graduate Danny Leyland cites his friends in Sculpture and research encouraged by lecturer Dr Louise Milne as a major influences on his work.

In 2017 alone, Danny has taken part in three exhibitions, including RSA: New Contemporaries, and continues working on the poetry-led event 'Vine Box'.

Tell us about your time at ECA

After completing a Foundation Course at Oxford Brookes in 2013, I jumped into second year Painting at ECA. It was easy to meet people and there was already an exciting studio environment full of different styles and enterprises. Though I studied Painting, most of the friends I made were in Sculpture. It was from them I felt the greatest influence; affecting the colours I started using, the way I thought about space, and influencing my presentation method so that it stretched across a broad range of media.

During my studies I worked as part of the Seven&One collective from 2015 to 2016. Seven&One’s method was to rotate the positions of the eight artists involved, so that for each show a different artist curated everybody else’s work, while “stepping out” and not showing anything themselves. The collective included artists from different courses - Sculpture, Painting, Fine Art - and we developed a varied and articulate artist-led exhibition programme. From 2014, I was an editor for the student-led Nomad Magazine, for which I eventually became also treasurer and graphic designer.

"Though I studied Painting, most of the friends I made were in Sculpture. It was from them I felt the greatest influence; affecting the colours I started using, the way I thought about space, and influencing my presentation method so that it stretched across a broad range of media."

Danny Leyland, Painting - BA, 2016 graduate

In addition to Seven&Ones, I co-ran weekly writing workshops, maintaining a safe space for student writers. We produced events to fundraise for our publications; from gigs, to film screenings, to the poetry-reading event Vine Box, which went on to become something bigger when I graduated.

Research began influencing my work after doing the visual culture course in Folk Culture led by Dr. Louise Milne. I loved how our research was not encouraged to be something involved directly with contemporary art. The visual language by which I develop my work would not be where it is without this continuing relationship with my own research, under the mentorship of Louise, right up to my dissertation and beyond.

Tell us about your experiences since leaving

Upon graduating, I was awarded two things, a bursary studio at St. Margaret’s House in Meadowbank, and the chance to exhibit work at the RSA: New Contemporaries exhibition. Naturally, this led me to focus on continuing to make art, in a more or less continued process after the Degree Show. In 2017, so far have exhibited my own work at three shows: the New Contemporaries; ‘Jouissance’ at Patriothall Gallery, curated by fellow 2016 graduate Hannah Ustun, and ‘Horrible Horse and Face the Face’, a solo show at St. Margaret’s House.

This year I have begun producing work as part of the research-led Cave Collective with 2016 Sculpture graduate Connie Hurley. In association with Rhythm Machine, a club night in Edinburgh, we’ve exhibited two different interactive costume and set pieces this year, based around the images and working lives of the Mussleburgh Fisherrow Fisherwives, and the greater mythological and folk material relating to the aquatic sphere. Images and narratives of mermaids, sirens, water nymphs, drownings, and so on offer a progressive and subversive worldview of sexuality and performance.

Danny Leyland
Image courtesy of Danny Leyland
Piles of fish
Patch paintings, (L) two birds fighting between a worm, (R) nightmare horse
Image courtesy of Danny Leyland
Patch paintings, (L) two birds fighting between a worm, (R) nightmare horse

The research material that informs my practice has developed through my continued work with Louise Milne. Since 2016, I have been organising public lectures for the Traditional Cosmology Society (TCS), an academic group that produced the journal Cosmos, of which Louise is the president and editor. In 2017, the TCS hosted the International Association for Comparative Mythology’s annual conference, and it was a great honour to be a part of this.

I have continued to direct the poetry-led event ‘Vine Box’, with several outcomes already this year, involving many different performers in various media of different ages and backgrounds. Developing this event outside of a student bubble is a continuing working goal. I am currently working towards ‘Wrap Around’, an event at the Scottish Poetry Library (where I volunteer), as part of Book Week Scotland, and preparing to take part in a 2017 graduate residency at Hospitalfield in Arbroath.

Alumni wisdom

Make the most of the facilities, become inducted in all the workshops, and spend your summer holidays working and learning skills.

Don’t leave Edinburgh if you can afford to stay.


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