Stephen Leard calls himself a “tinkerer.” I call him a gentle man with a gift.
I had the privilege of meeting Steve and his wife Roxanne recently, at their home in St. Eleanors. I was treated to a “tour” of their wonderfully preserved and cherished old farm house. Every room, it seemed, is a showcase for Steve’s work.
After a career in the military, Steve and his family returned home to the Island in 1992. He worked for the city of Summerside, and now devotes his time to his many artistic passions. Steve paints, pencil sketches in graphite, is a rug hooker and in 1999 began to wood carve, especially boxes. For more than 20 years, this humble and quiet man has listened to his heart and head and created an imaginative and eclectic world of art.
As we sat around the lovely old kitchen table, Steve said, “I see something in the clouds or the trees just looking out the window here, and then I come at it, sideways. I end up getting attached to many of the pieces. I love them all.”
He used to carve strictly with the hardwoods—maple and oak. “I’m losing some strength in my hands, so I mostly carve now using pine, it’s softer and easier,” he told me.
His wooden boxes either have tiny drawers that open, tops that lift up, small shelves or working doors. Intricate moving parts. He loves to carve small houses—with roofs that open up of course!
His grandmother taught him to rug hook as a toddler. “I do some of my own design work as well for my rugs. Seems like my brain doesn’t stop—day or night,” he said with a shake of his head and a slight smile. Some of his first rug designs were taken from the Art Deco illustrator Erte.
He showed me several (but told me there must be hundreds) of his sketches. The detail is remarkable. Both he and his wife are cat lovers. Some of their pets, now gone, are forever remembered in Steve’s meticulous drawings. Their darling granddaughter Winnie, is also a special subject for her grandpa.
Stephen Leard has had several shows and his work displayed at the Confederation Centre, the MacNaught House and at Eptek Art and Cultural Centre in Summerside. Hopefully, he is thinking of holding another exhibit soon. To speak with this remarkable gentle soul or perhaps see some of his profound work, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org