Whether she works in wood, charcoal, paint or metal, Cindy Lee Wright’s work is a celebration of the natural world – especially the part of the world she inhabits.
Recently, Cindy has focused on creating large outdoor laser-cut steel installations, such as the eye-catching Tree of Life, which features woodland creatures including hedgehogs, badgers, pheasants and leaping hares, and Earth Angel, a striking, seemingly floating angel. winged figure, with a robe made of cascading leaves.
And next week she plans to start installing a new work, Life of Cley, at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes Reserve.
Cindy works as what she describes as “an almost full-time artist”.
“Even though I had planned from an early age to become an artist, I trained as an actress instead and after a few years of touring I studied theology,” she explains.
“I started doing art when my youngest son, Eddie – who has Down syndrome – left school and started to be more independent and contented.
“I come from a family of engineers, so working with tools comes naturally to me, but it’s only in recent years that it’s veered into an art rather than a craft.”
Her artistic practice is an exploration of her spirituality, as well as a reflection of the natural world around us.
“I’ve always felt very connected and involved in the non-human wild world and now feel more and more responsible for it,” says Cindy.
“I’m married to wildlife writer Simon Barnes, who recently studied and is obsessed with botany, so I feel like our understanding is expanding every day.
“Also, spirituality is very important to me, which is why angels keep appearing in my work,” she says.
“Sometimes I think we all live a much smaller life than necessary, which is why I think it’s essential to connect in many directions, with each other, with the wild world and with the great spiritual world.”
Cindy lives in Norfolk, with family roots in Suffolk.
“My family are from Suffolk and my first home was in St Cross, but I only came back after my first son was born 28 years ago. We lived in Peasenhall so moving across the border to Norfolk was a betrayal at first! But there are no regrets.
“I am so lucky to live in this county. My home is in the middle of the marshes with the Chet River flowing in the distance so the wildlife is abundant and inspiring.
“It’s what inspires me to try to capture and share the beauty of the wild world I live in and to want to help protect habitats and species that I know are in trouble,” she says. .
It was during the pandemic that Cindy turned to laser sculpting and steel work.
“I’m happiest working with wood, but during lockdown Eddie needed my attention on a daily basis, so I had to find a way to meet my sculpting commitments without spending all day in a dusty workshop,” she says.
Working with what she describes as a “limited palette and shape” presents Cindy with some enjoyable challenges.
“Laser carving is basically a matter of design,” she explains. “First, I work on the design, then I transfer it to software. It’s a long process, but very satisfying. Trying to solve the problem of how to get the essence of a creature.
“The file must then be perfected to make it compatible with a laser machine. I don’t own any – they cost thousands and are constantly being updated and improved – I am sending the file to a steel fabricator and hoping for the best!”
Working with steel for outdoor sculptures means the pieces will continue to evolve as they spend time outdoors in the elements.
“Most of the work I do seems to be for outdoor spaces, which means they’re usually large and complicated to set up,” Cindy says.
“It’s mild steel, so it’s not going to rot quickly,” she continues.
“Of course, those with a rusty patina will need attention over the years to prevent corrosion, but it’s totally manageable.
“Furthermore, rust has its own creative life. In the rain or early morning it’s loud and dark, but in the middle of a sunset it looks like a burning orange.
“The advantage of laser profiles is that they can be reproduced, which means that it is possible to create art at an affordable price.
“I think art should be for everyone and not just an elite, but that’s often difficult to achieve with the ever-increasing costs of materials.”
Cindy has been working on Life of Cley since last October, and it has allowed her to begin to get more intimately acquainted with the Cley Marshes reserve as the seasons progress.
The installation will include an avocet, barn owl, great tit, bittern, buzzard, curlew, heron, kingfisher, lapwing, little egret, marsh harrier, swallows, swifts , spoonbill, oystercatcher, pintail, tern, otter, water vole and common toad. , huddled around the reeds and teasels.
“Until recently, when my time was taken up with helping run the Sculpture Trail at Potton Hall, I went there every week. It was amazing to experience this very special and glorious place,” says Cindy.
“I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface and I’d love to keep adding more and more,” she continues.
“I hope I can express the abundance of life there and celebrate the achievements of the incredible Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
“To a casual visitor who is not a birdwatcher looking at the sea of marshes and lagoons in Cley, it is not immediately apparent that they contain so much magic.”
Life of Cley, by Cindy Lee Wright, will be on display at NWT Cley Marshes from Thursday July 14th.
The Tree of Life is currently in the gardens of Otley Hall and Earth Angel guards the cafe at Potton Hall near Dunwich.
Cindy has smaller pieces for sale at the Octagon Gallery in Diss and the Ferini Gallery in Pakefield.
She will also take part in the Raveningham Sculpture Trail from July 30 to September 6 and From Avocets to Angels, a celebration of wing-inspired art, will be at the Aldeburgh Gallery from November 17 to 23.
For more about her work, check out her website, cindyleewright.com and follow her on Instagram @cindyleewright.artwork