North East artist to challenge breastfeeding views with art display at Sunderland University

Another of Leanne's portraits, featuring Lucy and Winston.
Another of Leanne's portraits, featuring Lucy and Winston.
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A Sunderland graduate is working to challenge the public's views of breastfeeding with an art exhibition.

Leanne Pearce’s display, which features a number of portraits aimed at capturing the relationship between mother and child, will launch at Sunderland University's Design Centre on April 19.

The self-portrait of Leanne and her first daughter.

The self-portrait of Leanne and her first daughter.

Entitled "Breastfeed", the idea stemmed from Leanne's own experiences of breastfeeding her two daughters.

The mum, 34, said: "The subject matter is a charged one and people feel passionately about it. The media are constantly focusing on negative stories which seem to forget the functional, maternal and nutritionally precious value of breastfeeding.

"Breasts have become sexualised and it is almost deemed abnormal to breastfeed, especially in public."

The exhibition is running until May 6, with a question and answer session running part-way through the dates.

Leanne working on her exhibition "Breastfeed".

Leanne working on her exhibition "Breastfeed".

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Leanne said that she became passionate about the subject while breastfeeding her first daughter. The self-portrait she created of her and her little girl led to the project's creation, and work on the collection has taken six months.

She added: "Breastfeeding mothers are strong, powerful, nurturing humans and at some points fragile.

"Each mother and baby partnership has their own unique story which can change and evolve quite organically or indeed be disrupted. Breastfeeding is often not plain sailing and many people feel vulnerable during this time.”

Izzy and Evie.

Izzy and Evie.

During her career, Leanne has been commissioned to paint many faces including Tanni Grey-Thompson, Paul Nicholas and Cheryl and Ashley Cole, for their wedding gift.

She was also asked to capture on canvas the faces of Cheryl Tweedy and Ashley Cole for a wedding gift.

Leanne's undergraduate degree in fine art was achieved at Northumbria University, Newcastle, and she took on a second degree in graphic communications at Sunderland.

Dr Manny Ling, Senior Lecturer in Design at the University of Sunderland, said: “We are delighted to welcome back Leanne and to host her exhibition at the Design Centre Gallery. It is always heart-warming to know that our alumni have gone on and do wonderful things.”

Leanne pictured with one of her portraits.

Leanne pictured with one of her portraits.

Leanne will host a Q&A session on Thursday, April 21, between 5.30pm and 6pm. Sunderland University Alumni, as well as members of the public, are invited to attend.

Contact 0191 5153664, or email alumni@sunderland.ac.uk. For more information about the artist, click here.

A portrait of Cat and Archer.

A portrait of Cat and Archer.