Photo courtesy of Freyja Barnwell   


Leslie Barnwell is an artist living in the Kispiox Valley in northwest British Columbia.
She is both skillful and innovative in her use of colour, materials and ideas, using various techniques and styles.  Leslie's paintings demonstrate her fascination with colour, pattern and form.

Her work also shows a deep concern for people, social issues and our place in the natural world.  She has mounted more than 30 individual exhibitions; her works hang in Canada and abroad in public and private collections.

Additional images of her work can be seen on the web gallery, Gallery Direct.

Leslie also writes and has been published in Creekstones: Words & Images, an anthology of work by British Columbia writers and photographers.  Creekstone Press has published a book of her poetry and drawings entitled, The Rosemary Suite.

Leslie can be reached by e-mail at


Artist's Statement

I've been painting and writing for a long time, as long as I can remember it seems.  Though the focus of this website is not writing, my poetry and visual art run concurrent in my life.

I guess most of us begin drawing when we are tiny and some of us stop, expressing ourselves in other ways.  Some of us don't stop.  I'm one of those, though I have not painted professionally for all of that time.  I married, moved to Kispiox Village with my husband, Joe, taught school there, then moved up-valley where we built a log house and brought up two wonderful daughters, Maila and Freyja.  Along the way I began to create work I felt I could share and have continued to do so.  My daughters have grown and moved away.  I still live in the Kispiox Valley with my companion, John Stephens.

Over the years my artistic expression has taken many forms.  There is always something new on the horizon.  For the last several years I have been developing a medium I call woven watercolour.  This unique work is very exciting for me.  I continue to push the limits of this new approach to painting.  Currently the Rouault series commands my attention.  The vibrant, rich creations of French painter Georges Rouault inspire this work.  These pieces entwine his vision and mine as I re-imagine his images in woven paintings.  I continue to work in traditional watercolour, pencil and ink as well.

I do my best to walk with my eyes and heart open.  One small vision.  One great world.

Excerpts from reviews

The Vancouver Sun, Stephen Hume

extended reflections / fear in fragment
Poking about Prince George with the unashamed nosiness of a columnist in search of something to write about I passed one window behind which women were affixing tiny objects to the wall.  The women were setting up a small art gallery for a show of miniatures.  But the real treat was upstairs.
There I found Kispiox artist Leslie Barnwell.  Her exhibition displayed large studies of the ephemeral qualities of light, captured and re-made as metaphors for the intangible elements of relationships - viewer to painting, artist to subject, inner to outer worlds...
Whether a technical display of how water-smoothed pebbles emerge through skim ice over clear water or a still life examining the way in which light passes through crystal this former teacher is a student of translucent objects.  She uses them to show how the small encompasses the vast, how the tiny may often contain the world and how nothing is insignificant.
Today, at Abbotsford, in a most unusual and troubling work she turns her illuminating eye to the human landscape.  It settles on the least among us, the prison people we often prefer to dismiss as trash.
Barnwell requires us to meet the activators of our prejudices, confronts us with the human face of our generalized fears...
"The work does what papers, reports, commissions and newspaper articles cannot," observed Judge Carlie Trueman. "It makes us pause and reflect."...

Press release, Community Arts Council of Vancouver

reflections on an uneven surface
In this collection of works the artist explores a variety of reflections and uneven surfaces - literally and figuratively...
Her subjects display a simple imagery, sufficient to entice the viewer without becoming narrative in nature.  This understatement leads to an intended ambiguity, achieving a sense of drama and mystery.  Spatial and linear relationships within the pieces emphasize this tension.  One is encouraged to look beyond the surface intention.

Interior News, Smithers B.C., Lorne Clarke

the evolution of a sudden moment
Feel like taking a walk on the wild side?
Then put the Smithers Art Gallery on the top of your list of things to do this week...
The evolution of a sudden moment, an exhibition of abstract paintings by Leslie Barnwell of Kispiox, will inspire your mind and may cause you to drift subliminally into another dimension.  The colour patterns, design and imagery that lies beneath the surface of these delicately interwoven works will certainly leave you pondering.