A collection of 14 versatile art pieces that evolve as she embarks on her artistic journey of exploration. Her creations serve as narratives of the landscapes and ethos she experiences.

“Just as in our ecosystem, everything should form a cycle. However, our consumption patterns involve continually acquiring more items, while the waste is not repurposed and instead accumulates in landfills. This linear system is a significant underlying cause of many of the environmental problems we are currently facing.”

Leslie Leong

Visual Artist

Leslie Leong

Visual Artist

Supported by the “Advanced Artist Award” funding from the Yukon Government, Leslie Leong spent one month in the spring of 2024 at Sagarmatha Next.

Leslie created 14 versatile pieces integrating metal waste from the pits of Namche and climbing ropes from Ama Dablam. Her art aims to highlight the effects of the global commercial system on the natural environment and to raise awareness about our consumer habits and the limits of our planet.

Leslie is committed to employing recycled, reclaimed, and repurposed materials, pushing back against the norms of our linear economy, disposable consumer culture, and planned obsolescence. To her, the use of recycled materials goes beyond sustainability— it involves appreciating the inherent value in existing resources and redefining waste as a valuable asset.

Artistic process

Using materials found in her surroundings, her art often starts with spontaneity inspired by the places she visits and the objects she discovers. As she experiments with textures and compositions, she encounters materials that visually intrigue her.

Each piece is a statement of exploration, encapsulating the artist’s experience and her perception of, and exposure to, the lifestyle in the Khumbu region.

She connects the visuals of her art with the core values of the project, creating an emotional bond that amplifies the impact and effectiveness of the message. Leslie advocates for a departure from new materials, stressing the significance of utilizing available resources to craft meaningful art that minimizes environmental harm.

Artistic process

Using materials found in her surroundings, her art often starts with spontaneity inspired by the places she visits and the objects she discovers. As she experiments with textures and compositions, she encounters materials that visually intrigue her.

Each piece is a statement of exploration, encapsulating the artist’s experience and her perception of, and exposure to, the lifestyle in the Khumbu region.

She connects the visuals of her art with the core values of the project, creating an emotional bond that amplifies the impact and effectiveness of the message. Leslie advocates for a departure from new materials, stressing the significance of utilizing available resources to craft meaningful art that minimizes environmental harm.

Story telling through art

Storytelling through art

Creating The Principle of Life, Leslie gathered latches from waste pits in the mountains and discovered a U-shaped window frame in Sagarmatha Next, which sparked her visualization process. She connected the shape and purpose of this project to the philosophical concept of the mandala, believing in the cyclical nature of life where everything comes full circle, including our waste. This philosophy inspired her to create this remarkable masterpiece. Her approach to art is not just about aesthetics but also about leaving behind stories to narrate.

To Leslie, the concept of the mandala symbolizes our journey as individuals and our collective existence. She felt a sense of imbalance in our consumption habits, likening it to a missing piece of garbage in an ecosystem where everything should cycle back into usefulness. Instead, with our current consumption patterns, waste accumulates in landfills, leading to continuous buildup.

Expedition Ama Dablam

Expedition Ama Dablam draws inspiration from the breathtaking view of this iconic mountain and a clean-up effort that retrieved a large bag of climbing ropes from Ama Dablam.

Materiality is a key aspect of this representation of Ama Dablam. The purpose and expression of this artwork are products of both its form and its materials. All the materials used to create this work are discards from human activities.

The structure is welded metal from a rusted animal cage and welded rebar off-cuts, supported by rusted washers and a discarded metal bar, symbolizing the mountain’s ruggedness. The climbing ropes from the Climb2Change 2023 clean-up expedition, led by Nelly Attar and Madison Mountaineering, funded by Mashreq Bank, highlight the collective effort to protect the Himalayan environment.

Utilizing old, stiff, and tangled climbing ropes posed challenges for its creation. To achieve functionality, Leslie separated the core from the sheath and employed various techniques to recreate the etherael aspect of the mountain. At the bottom, red and white tassels illustrate the construction of climbing ropes, with white strands forming the core and a red sheath enveloping them. 

Incorporating these mountain ropes was crucial to emphasize their symbolism and to repurpose discarded materials, challenging our disposable culture and planned obsolescence.

Expedition Ama Dablam

Expedition Ama Dablam draws inspiration from the breathtaking view of this iconic mountain and a clean-up effort that retrieved a large bag of climbing ropes from Ama Dablam.

Materiality is a key aspect of this representation of Ama Dablam. The purpose and expression of this artwork are products of both its form and its materials. All the materials used to create this work are discards from human activities.

The structure is welded metal from a rusted animal cage and welded rebar off-cuts, supported by rusted washers and a discarded metal bar, symbolizing the mountain’s ruggedness. The climbing ropes from the Climb2Change 2023 clean-up expedition, led by Nelly Attar and Madison Mountaineering, funded by Mashreq Bank, highlight the collective effort to protect the Himalayan environment.

Utilizing old, stiff, and tangled climbing ropes posed challenges for its creation. To achieve functionality, Leslie separated the core from the sheath and employed various techniques to recreate the etherael aspect of the mountain. At the bottom, red and white tassels illustrate the construction of climbing ropes, with white strands forming the core and a red sheath enveloping them. 

Incorporating these mountain ropes was crucial to emphasize their symbolism and to repurpose discarded materials, challenging our disposable culture and planned obsolescence.

Experience at Sagarmatha Next

As an artist, having that space where you can be inspired without distractions was very refreshing. I felt deeply fulfilled both culturally and artistically, and also found it incredibly rewarding from an environmental perspective.

The presence of supportive staff at Sagarmatha Next, who assisted with equipment and repairs, enhanced the experience. Their steadfast belief in my work, even during moments of uncertainty, was incredibly uplifting. Their respectful approach has fostered an outstanding educational environment for visitors, which is commendable. The initiative they have undertaken and their approach in interacting with guests have the potential to inspire individuals to share their experiences in their homes and wherever they travel.

Throughout her residency, Leslie engaged deeply with both visitors and locals, and these meaningful interactions are artfully reflected in the intricate details of each piece she has created.

“Just as in our ecosystem, everything should form a cycle. However, our consumption patterns involve continually acquiring more items, while the waste is not repurposed and instead accumulates in landfills. This linear system is a significant underlying cause of many of the environmental problems we are currently facing.”

About the artist

Leslie Leong

About the artist
Leslie Leong

Leslie, a multidisciplinary artist from Northern Canada, uses her creations to narrate the landscapes and values she encounters. She views art as a timeless medium for storytelling.

For the past fifteen years, Leslie has focused on using recycled, reclaimed, and repurposed materials, pushing against the norms of our linear economy, disposable consumer culture, and planned obsolescence. Drawing on her background in engineering, she employs innovative techniques to rejuvenate these unconventional materials

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