Ibiza History & Culture

LiveIbiza Established 1982
Ibiza Artists Anthropology Bibliomania Ecology History Features

Artists of Ibiza

Artists on Ibiza

Lesley Riddihough

by José P Ribas


It was a long drive again to the other side of the Island for Gary and I to visit Lesley Riddihough, our artist for this week.

Lesley lives in a nice little finca in the countryside near Sant Joan. But as it was also a sunny, bright day, almost thirty degrees centigrade, on one of the most splendid and colourful springs we have had for decades (because of the plentiful April rains) the trip was rather enjoyable.

Several times we were tempted to stop the car to take photos of the exuberance of different plants and flowers, completely covering the fields with their bright colours. The beauty of our Islands this spring has got to be seen to be believed.

Living in this environment, it is easy to understand how a sensitive soul can become a real and solid artist from the bottom of the heart, even if the painting techniques have to be learned along the way.

At the house we had the welcome of three generations of splendid women (one of them, about four or five years old, seated on her swing with her ballet dress on, like a little queen. She was a real poem!). The intense aroma of the orange tree blossoms and a jasmine that grows by the entrance made this moment very pleasant.

Lesley's studio is on the top floor, full of light, with the three typical arches of the local "casa payesa". It is full of painting materials, oil paint tubes, brushes, untouched canvas, some already-started new paintings and some ready to be hung, hopefully in her next exhibition, from the 1st July in Santa Eulari.

The oil paintings that I was allowed to see were still life, also full of colours, with special emphasis on the natural details and the reflection of the light, that I consider a very actual, but also very personal style. They are happy paintings. I felt good observing them.

On our way back to Sant Antoni, Gary and I couldn't take a pleasant smile off our faces when we looked at each other and both agreed that the trip and the time we spent with Lesley had been really worthwhile living. Good memories to keep.

Lesley was born in Leamington Spa in the middle of England. She studied dress design at Birmingham College of Art and in 1962 went to Paris and found a job modelling for Lanvin. The next summer, hitchhiking around Spain with a friend, they came to Eivissa.

"At the end of our visit I heard about Formentera, but there was no time to go there. I was determined to come back again. The magic of these islands had started working on me"

Five years later, after many summers spent snorkelling in Formentera with her American husband, she separated from him and came with her small daughter, Shani, to live there. At first, to survive, she dyed the natural hand spun wool and crocheted jackets, then designed many kinds of clothes and opened a shop with some friends in "Es Pujols" (Formentera).

"It was a wonderful time to bring up children on that small island. There was a whole group of us, it was so easy living amongst the people there, they are so welcoming and relaxed".

In 1981, with another daughter, Liann, already nine years old, she decided to moved to Ibiza so that they could continue their studying at the English School in Morna Valley (Sant Carles).

Living in Sant Joan she discovered the beautiful countryside of Eivissa.

"This Island is very different from Formentera, softer and prettier, all folded into valleys with hidden "fincas" (local peasants' country houses) whereas Formentera is in communion with the sky. I can never decide where I want to live most!"

After her youngest daughter grew up and left home, and while working in a friend's message service and shop, Lesley felt she needed to do something more creative, so she went out and bought some brushes and oils.

"My father had always painted watercolours of precise old buildings and churches, beautifully executed. But I didn't think I could do that; the problem was what was to do! In the end I decided I would do a painting of a pair of boots I particularly loved at that moment. It turned out really well and I was encouraged to branch out and try painting the other special moments I wanted to freeze for all time on my canvass".

A couple of years later she took drawing lessons for three months.

"I loved the way the teacher forced me to look and re-look at the detail; I think it was this that started me on the "bodegones" (still life paintings). Painting portraits, even a tiny stroke of the brush can totally change an expression. But likewise with my close-ups, I can work for hours on getting a shape with the right amount of roundness and friendliness as on the contrary sharpness and meanness, and a colour - or contrast of colours - that is expressing exactly the feeling I'm trying to give and the essence of the objects.

There is of course, a "Lesleyness" to all my paintings, but inside of that is a language of curves and colour.

"However, when it comes down to it, I didn't choose to be a writer and communicate with words: my medium is visual and you must look at my paintings. I think people are afraid to really look and think for themselves about Art, although that is changing, but often they leave themselves be told how to feel about it, either by the artist's message or the catalogue. I like to sit down and see how I feel about it and I'm hoping people will feel good when they do the same with mine".

Lesley's painting can be seen at present in several Art-locals of Eivissa, such as:

"Cas Curuné", On the road to Sant Joan
"Vista Alegre", Sant Joan
"Casa Turquesa", Santa Eulari
"Lingham", Sant Carles

In Formentera, "Casa Balear", La Sabina.

Lesley Riddihough will hopefully exhibit her new paintings for two weeks this summer from the 1st July in the "Sala de Cultura" of Santa Eulari, on the main street, below the police station.

Lesley's Previous Exhibitions

1992 "Timor", Santa Eulari, Eivissa

1993 Galería Bella & Siona Baram, Formentera

1994 Galería Origins, Santa Gertrudis, Eivissa
"Es Regueró", Sant Antoni, Eivissa

1995 Lailey's Gallery, England

1996 Galería Arte y Colección, Santa Eulari, Eivissa
"Magazin" (on the road to Sant Joan), Eivissa
Rattan Gallery, Eivissa

1997 Paul Smith Gallery, England
"Decorum", Eivissa

1998 "La Caixa", Formentera

1999 "La Caixa", Formentera

2001 "Sala de Cultura", Santa Eulari, Eivissa
"Ajuntament Vell", Sant Francesc, Formentera.

2002 Blue Gallery, Mönchengladbach, Germany

Lesley Riddihough Talking with Friends at an Art Exhibition
First Painting 1991
First Painting Sold 1991
Camino to the Balsa 1996
Can Tirurit 1996
Cap House 1998
Blue Door on the Cap 1998
Tawny Cat 1997
Ibicenco Ladies 1998
Gate in Wall 1998
Almond Blossom San Vicente 1999
Plant by the Window 1999
Glass Pots & Rolling Pin 2000
Cut Orange & Spoon 1999
Mushrooms & Brown Bowl 1999
Poppies in Jar 1999
Pomegranate Shoots 2000
Glass Bottle & Rose 2001
Gigi Vase 2001
Strawberries & Blue Bowl 2002
Mixed Flowers In Brown Pot 2002

All Pictures Courtesy Of Lesley Riddihough

José P Ribas