Profile: Lek – artist, teacher, mum

Profile: Lek – artist, teacher, mum

Lek, at 43, is still the cool girl, but there are no airs about her. She breezes about in billowy blouses, jeans and gumboots, a leather bag slung over her body, easily transitioning from horse paddock to art room to the coffee shop to afternoon school pickup. 

Her "sweet and brilliantly clever" 11-year-old Jasper, a keen cellist, classical guitarist and amateur filmmaker, has just come back from the pool and he's feeling very ill. Lek is quick to address her little man's flailing health: "What did you have for breakfast?". Not much. "How about something to eat then?"

Jasper, I'm told, spent yesterday making a film with his friends titled 'Anger Management Part One'. "They've made a film production company called Three Big Heads with logos and everything," she says. "They spent about three hours doing the bloopers – they're always more entertaining."

Lek (aka Leslie) studied drama and art at university before going into teaching, which she now does part-time at a Gold Coast high school. Her latest art projects include creating stage sets for Jasper's school play and painting murals for the dementia unit at a hospice on the Gold Coast.

"They had this courtyard that was really barren, concrete, and they wanted to turn it into a sensory garden," she explains. "If they have somewhere else to go, other than in their rooms, their whole sense of purpose is different. They wanted a cafe, and an old-fashioned bus scene, because the women all wanted to pick up their children from the bus in the afternoon. They also like to put out the washing. And the men like to work."

A keen dressage competitor, Lek grew up around horses, pestering her parents for her own before taking riding lessons at a pony club. She started competing in competitions with her best friend, Nicolette, when they weren't sneaking off to watch Simon Townsend's Wonderworld (a magazine-style pop-culture show which aired from 1979 to 1987) that is.

"There are lots of Gold Coast girls who do dressage," she says. "Nicolette and I were pretty good when we were young – we had a lot of support from her family. My dad was treasurer of the pony club and her dad was president of the pony club at Nerang."

Lek has two horses now – Califf, a German Warmblood "Holsteiner", who has a sports injury, and Grace, a Friesian, a breed from the Netherlands she first fell in love with while living in an Austrian ski village with her partner, Rod, a surveyor.

"They were the carriage horses in our village, Kitzbuhel, and they were just beautiful," she says. "When we came back to Australia, there weren't many here. There are a couple of hundred of them now, but only a dozen stallions or so. As she gets older, she'll have fluffier feet, a long curly tail and a long curly mane. She'll start going to shows next year, but she'll be the family horse, too."

After meeting Rod at Fisherman's Wharf on the Gold Coast and working as Deputy Head of Performing Arts at Gladstone High School, Lek and Rod, who she describes as "a bit of an action man", took off for London where they took regular trips around Europe, eventually settling in Kitzbuhel to work the ski fields.

After having her fill of cold and dreary London and wearying of the work in Austria, Lek returned home where she completed further studies in education and struck up a relationship with a painter, finding herself immersed in the art world. Rod continued his work from an Austrian base, joining an oil rig team on the open seas. Lek eventually heeded the call to go back to him.

They returned to Australia, but it was on holiday in Austria that they conceived Jasper. Now, Rod gets his action-man kicks from hang gliding off Mount Tamborine.

"I wouldn't want to live with someone who's a couch potato but there are boundaries," she says. "He doesn't fly if the weather's bad, but it's still a dangerous sport, like jumping on a motorbike. The more I know about it, the worse it is, because I've seen more accidents and I know how fallible it is; I have no naivete about it. It's not some illusory thing them leaping through the air, it's calculated risk all the time."

Lek has given dressage competing away and is now looking for a keen young rider to keep Califf in shape. And while she will happily pull Jasper out of school for an overseas trip, she's no longer enamoured with the idea of a nomadic existence. She's keen on buying a block of land to build on.

"My dream life was to live in a Kombie – to be able to reach the stove and make a coffee from bed, and to pull up somewhere new every day. That size, that space," she says wistfully.

"I don't ever want to live in a big house. I just want the glass box in the middle of a block of land – the Farnsworth house. I love the idea of boxes for houses. There are some people who are doing the Kiwi bach. It's such a perfect design brief – grab a box and cut it into as many shapes as you can and see what happens."

A true artist's view of the world.

You may recognise Lek (aka Leslie) from posts such as this

Girl With a Satchel