Lower Sixth student Leo Bignell is about to have his first solo exhibition. His cardboard sculptures will go on display on Friday (4 October) at Turners, the menswear shop in Colchester. What’s unusual about Leo’s work, apart from the fact the sculptures are made from cardboard, is the drama, intensity and realism of each piece. The Royal Academy took note earlier this year when three of his sculptures were shortlisted for its first Young Artists’ Summer Show.
Leo’s showcase is the culmination of years of dedication: he’s been drawing and designing since he was old enough to hold a pencil. And, when the painter and sculptor, Nicola Burrell, visited his primary school and showed the class what could be achieved with cardboard, he couldn’t get enough Amazon boxes to feed his creativity. But what he does with this material is so delicate and impressive, you have to see it to believe it.
Speaking about his sculptures, Nicola said: ‘It’s completely staggering what Leo has achieved working with cardboard. His imagination and creativity are undoubted, but then there’s his forensic attention to detail, his skill. He can make cardboard look like leather, denim, skin; he’s totally mastered the material.’
His talent isn’t restricted to sculpture; he also creates brand identities. Leo was only 10 when he designed the ‘Shine’ logo for his primary school (Tendring Primary School); he was 11 when he first designed the Arts Festival logo for St Joseph’s, something he’s done almost every year since, as well as the College’s charity fashion show and scholar’s logos.
Mrs Harvey, Assistant Principal Arts & Academic recognised his talent early on: ‘Leonardo is an incredibly exciting and promising young artist. It has been a pleasure to watch him grow and develop his craft, and we all at St Joseph’s College could not be prouder of his achievements. He is certainly one to keep an eye on in years to come.’
If you’d like to see Leo’s sculptures, they’ll be on view at Turners, 71 Crouch Street, Colchester CO3 3EY on 4 October, 2.00pm – 8.00pm, and on 5, 8 and 9 October, 10am – 6.00pm. You may ask why Leo’s showcase is being held at a menswear store in Colchester, and the answer’s simple: the owner of Turners, Duncan Turner, is an artist and once he’d seen Leo’s work, he wanted to help bring it to the attention of a wider audience. Duncan said: ‘Rarely have I seen such a unique talent. He uses the most basic of materials and turns them into something so special. I’m proud just be linked to Leo’s work.’