11 July, 2012 11 July, 2012

with Leigh Tuckniss

Name: Leigh Tuckniss
Hometown: Cape Town

Before we get started, tell us where you surf, what you ride, and are you a goofy or natural foot?
Well I’m a Muizenberg local; I love the chilled atmosphere and old school surfer town vibe. I used to ride a short board, but now I enjoy riding an eight-footer every now and again – and Muizies is perfect for that as we all know. Oh and I’m a natural.

Tell us a little bit about your art?
The terrain of concerns of my work rotates singularly yet abstractly around the concept of death, mortality, transformation and loss. The portrayal of such concerns exists within a space of curiosity and wonder rather than a morbid and violent interpretation. I work predominantly in Indian ink and allow the fluidity to express the soft edges and gentle mystery of such heavy topics.

I’m so intrigued with bones and skulls, but not in a weird way at all, I just find a beauty in their raw form and function. I also love combining arbitrary things together, using collage and contrasts; I believe that by combining two opposing pictures you can create quite a statement.

If you think back, can you remember your first piece of art you created?
I was always creating things when I was young, I cannot remember a specific thing as it ranged from building fairy fortresses in the garden to chalking up our drive way with a kaleidoscope of colours. My mother is also very creative and taught us to always watch nature and observe its beauties, so I guess art was/is always with me, whether I was making something or just observing it. But I do remember in primary school I used to hand paint and make a lot of my clothes, I think my class mates thought I was a little off the wall. Haha!

This is the final assemblage of my art work called “This Aloneness”. No single work is named or isolated, it exists as one entire body of work. They are all painted with Indian ink on a selection of paper.

Why does art interest you?
Creativity is essentially who I am down to the core, I cannot imagine my life without it. There is no named purpose to art and perhaps that’s what makes it so curious and interesting. Art is just another beautiful gift we cannot understand, but we can fully accept it and indulge in its form and medium. Art simply makes my daily life a happier one.

From where (or whom) do you draw your inspiration?
Well, my grandfather was a well-travelled man and he had the largest National Geographic collection I had ever seen – he knew I loved them, so he left them to me when he passed away. The images in them are where I draw most of my inspiration from; to me they represent so much about life. I am also deeply inspired by water; it was in fact water that inspired my thesis for graduation. Water’s mystery, beauty and power are so incredible and so unchangeable. My mother always used to say how she just loved watching the surfers in action, because they would carve these beautiful lines into the waves, just like if someone was painting. I guess this is what inspires me too.

What art do you most identify with?
I identify with any art that expresses the soul and anything that can make me stop and gaze for a significant while. I love abstract art, but then again I just love it all!

This one’s called “Gone to the Unseen” – it’s 2m x 1,3m, so it’s big! This is my favorite work I’ve done, it seems to sum up every reason why I love to paint and search for the mystery in life. Its very abstract and dark but there are hints of familiarity in it.

What are your favourite mediums and what kind of projects do you like working on?
My favourite medium is painting; I cannot get enough of the smell of oils, the effect of the inks in water, the beauty of colours mixed together and gliding lines of the brush on its surface. Yes painting is definitely my vibe. haha.

Do you have a favourite work of art?
My own would be the large oil painting I did in fourth year, it’s a dark body of water with black swans, skulls, a man floating in the sea and a blue scorpion. It’s difficult to see the details as they are all just hinted – this still draws me in, I suppose this painting is the perfect example of what mystery I try to achieve in my work.

Do you have any exhibitions planned?
I’m planning on having a show at the end of the year, but nothing is finalised at all. I’m just going with the flow for now. I’m actually venturing into surfboard art and design on the side, so between the two I want to have something to show for it at the end of the year.

Me after a session at my much loved Muizies. [Right] This is a board shaped by Ian Armstrong, which I painted for a friend – she wanted something flowy and hippie-ish…

Where can people see more of your work?
I have a blog leightucknissart.blogspot.com, which needs to be updated big time! However, I am available to personally show my work at any time, I actually prefer the work not photographed because I believe it loses some depth and detail.

What is your dream project?
My dream project would be to be part a massive exhibition which collaborate artists that range from street art, photography, music and performance art.  I would love to live off my earnings and travel the world and collect artefacts from all the magical places. Another major dream would be to see everyone riding surfboards with my designs on them! Haha.

Lastly, tell us who your favourite artist is?
My favourite artists must be Bill Viola the videography artist, Hanna Hoch a German Dadaist artist and Jane Alexander a South African sculptor famous for her “Butcher Boys” – I really enjoy her attitude, how she doesn’t care what the world thinks of her and yet the world respects her so much.

Check out Leigh Tuckniss Surfboard Art on Facebook.

These are detailed images of the work “This Aloneness”. They are painted with Indian ink on a variety of paper and sizes. They are simply tender observations of life and its beauty.

A cold winters day in studio, flirting with the few sunrays coming through the windows. You can see I still have my slipper socks on, haha! My studio represents a collage of my life, work and soul.

Artist’s Corner is presented by Volcom:


  1. Amanda
    11 July, 2012 at 8:31 am · Reply

    This is just so awesome!! Leigh you have such incredible wisdom and a beautiful interpretation of the beauty of life and all it offers.
    Surfers can personalize their boards with your art and thereby create and extension of there hearts and passions – Surfing is an art and and when matched with your incredible artistic talents the whole thing can be seen as an moving display and exhibition in the sea…

  2. Greg
    11 July, 2012 at 2:31 pm · Reply


    Iv always admired your art, I remember sitting in art class (just to kill the time) wondering how the hell you do it.

  3. Niki
    11 July, 2012 at 3:51 pm · Reply

    Great work Leigh!!! You are a real inspiration. X

  4. Peter
    11 July, 2012 at 4:30 pm · Reply

    Wow Leigh! Just such a talent. See you at Muizies

  5. Myles Bing
    11 July, 2012 at 5:55 pm · Reply

    This inspires me. Live free, live large, live loud. Well done. May the talents you steward be the lever upon which many doors will open. See you at the ‘Berg (was out there with Jenna yesterday – glassy, 4+ feet out back, uncrowded for Muizies.)

  6. Tylon Moolman
    11 July, 2012 at 8:36 pm · Reply

    Very impressive Leigh! A brilliant article on an even more brilliant artist. With your talent and your outlook on life you are destined for great things.
    Much love.

  7. Skunk
    12 July, 2012 at 11:51 am · Reply

    Nice work Leigh, very nice work. Kiff to see local artists getting promoted too.

  8. Leigh Tuckniss
    14 July, 2012 at 11:07 am · Reply

    thanks everyone!! you all super kind 🙂 Peace and Love x x x

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