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About Peter McLeish's Work

Canadian artist Peter McLeish is a visual artist and a composer who merges his scientific training and knowledge to produce paintings and sound art inspired by the natural world.

In terms of his pictorial production, McLeish has been exploring two psychological themes: that of masked and unmasked portraits. He explores the theme of the hidden persona, in a series of masked portraits. Within the theme of the hidden persona, he investigates how the person becomes ‘the mask’. 

Through his scientific interest and knowledge, McLeish has also been developing several series of works exploring light and movement in underwater environments. He has been delving into the two basic properties of light within these strands of works.


In his work on ‘Red Sprites’, McLeish allows art to meet science at the highest levels. A Red Sprite is a large-scale electric discharge that occurs high above thunderstorm clouds, or cumulonimbus, giving rise to a varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky. They are usually triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground. Sprites appear as luminous red-orange flashes.

McLeish’s artistic and scientific work on the ‘Red Sprites’ resulted in lectures, film presentations, and/or exhibitions at prestigious museums and centres, such as the Natural History Museum in London, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, and the
Art Science Museum in Singapore.

He holds a BA Fine Arts from Concordia University: Montreal, Quebec, and a MA Fine Arts from University of Guelph: Guelph, Ontario. He has been awarded several research grants and sponsorships, has published extensively, and has a long list of interviews. He has engaged in film presentations, multimedia exhibitions and lecture tours, including at the prestigious University of Oxford and University of Cambridge in the UK. In 2003, McLeish Red Sprites research led to a collaboration with Dr. Colin Price from University of Tel Aviv on the previous NASA Space Shuttle
Columbia's MEIDEX mission.

McLeish's work is in several collections, including the Alcan Corporate Collection. He was taught painting by legendary Canadian painters and Fine Arts Professors Yves Gaucherand Guido Molinari. McLeish also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts studies from the Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

By Kalinca Costa Söderlund

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