Lesley Birch


Originally from Glasgow, Lesley Birch is a Scottish painter & printmaker currently based in York, UK.

Lesley’s evocative abstract works stem from memories and sketches of Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall and Yorkshire where she currently lives.

Her paintings are a personal response to time and place, imbued with expressive mark-making and colour choices geared to spark off emotion.

Her work is an interpretation of feelings and emotions connected to time & place. Gesture is her language. Calligraphic scribbles and sweeping brush marks flow on paper and canvas straddling the boundary between abstraction and figuration. She derives her inspiration from memories and sketches of time spent in Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall. Lesley Birch is partial to ‘dramatic skies, lilac hills and rugged coasts’ – painting the weather as much as the landscape in expressive brush strokes. A professional musician before she made a career as a painter, Lesley likens the sensation of mark making and colour-combining to ‘that exciting moment when materiality and emotion meet, the same moment as the resolution of a hanging chord.’

Lesley began exploring her interest in printmaking and painting in 2000 whilst teaching English Literature in Cambridge. After moving to Yorkshire, she won a ‘highly commended’ in the Harrogate Open (2007) and held her first solo show, Land & Sky, at the Yorkshire Dales Centre (2008). Her work is also held in the Royal Marsden Hospital Collection.

Lesley has shown in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2013, shortlisted 2014), the ING Discerning Eye at the Mall Galleries (2016, 2017, 2018). She is a past winner of The UK Artist Magazine Prize (2016) and the Clairefontaine Award. She is also a member of both the Leeds Fine Artists and the Society of Scottish Fine Artists.

Lesley Birch is a founding member of the PICA Studios in York.

My paintings come from my personal experiences of places. I sketch and make small studies outside, before building up layers of paint back in the studio. There, I work from my memory and imagination, where I’m as concerned with the quality of the paint as I am with my subject. I aim to convey the ‘feel’ of a place – the movement of air around me, the abstraction of shapes and the sounds. I create paintings with feeling. The fact that certain combinations of colours, certain marks and movements can convey an atmosphere – that is the joy of painting for me – the exciting moment when materiality and emotion meet.

Lesley Birch