Leigh van der Schyff was born in South Africa and spent her childhood in the care of Africans still strongly connected to their tribal roots. This association influenced her profoundly. Through exposure to their art, story-telling and song, she became fascinated with African culture as a whole. The gradual discovery of the aboriginal arts of the rest of the world, particularly that of the Australian Aborigines, has also been a significant influence on her work.
As a child, her training was ongoing and varied, but it was at the Johannesburg School of Art that her studies became structured and concentrated. Extensive training and work experience in the drafting department of a Johannesburg mining corporation is apparent in the precision of some of her designs.
With her family, she emigrated to Canada in 1974, then to the USA in 1991. Since 2015, Leigh has resided in Portland, Oregon
From 1992 to 1997, van der Schyff's work was exhibited at various venues in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The following excerpt is from a review of a one-woman exhibition at the College of Santa Fe (Greer Garson Theatre):
"Leigh van der Schyff brings a heartfelt and knowledgeable connection to her use of African motifs . . . she honors the spirit of the traditions they spring from. While most artists from a western tradition might be expected to reduce the . . . symbols to a balanced, orderly pattern, van der Schyff instead chooses to retain the flavor of the context giving birth to the use of these symbols . . . like nomad-woven rugs and the fabric of Africa . . . the product of a life close to the land and elements.
. . . Artists working in the manner that she does, preserve the germ of traditions that are often among the first things to go when indigenous cultures embrace the technological/industrial world of those bringing the light of 'civilization'." -- Dean Balsamo, "Gallery Hopping", Santa Fe New Mexican, March 1994.
PUBLIC AND CORPORATE COLLECTIONS:
Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento, California
University of California Davis, Medical Center, Sacramento, California
UC Davis Placer Center for Health
UC Davis clinics in Sacramento, California:
Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, Same Day Surgery and the Cadillac Eye Clinic
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Francisco, California
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Modesto, California
Lodi Memorial Hospital, Lodi, California
Office of the Sacramento County Executive, Sacramento, California
Sacramento County Primary Care Center, Sacramento, California
Phoenix Park Community Center, Sacramento, California
The Caring Place, Richmond, BC, Canada
El Dorado County Library, El Dorado Hills Branch, California
Leigh van der Schyff's work is also part of many private collections in the United States, Canada and South Africa.
Follow the navigation links to view a selection of Leigh's work.