We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.





Simone Leigh

United States of America

1967 –

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    bronze, raffia
    3/3 [from edition of 3 + 1AP]
    205.7 x 185.4 x 102.9 cm
    Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation 2019
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Simone Leigh

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Simone Leigh

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The work of Simone Leigh explores the connections between the body and the world we inhabit. Her sculptures, which range from the domestic to the monumental, are studies in how the architecture of our surrounds – its scales, materials, shapes, ideologies, customs – construct and reflect the frame through which we see ourselves and each other. Her practice specifically looks to these ideas from the perspective and experience of black women. The daughter of Jamaican missionaries, raised in Chicago and now living in Brooklyn, she is interested in the social histories of the African diaspora that crisscross centuries and geographies. Her influences range from her immediate community to the traditional dwellings of Cameroon and Chad, from the 20th century female performers Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham to the black revolutionary organizations Black Panthers and United Order of Tents.

    Home can be a place to retreat to for protection from the outside world. When the conditions of that world are harsh and unjust, home itself becomes something to be protected. In her work ‘Sentinel’, Leigh has created an icon of protection – a sculpture that is both a woman and a shelter, a guardian and the thing she is guarding. Combining allusions to central African meeting halls, raffia costumes and shelters, and prefabricated Quonset huts used in wartime, ‘Sentinel’ is nonetheless most striking for all that it withholds. If the eyes are the window to the soul, Leigh’s protector tells us her inner world is not for everyone to see and know.

    ‘Sentinel’ is the first work by Leigh – who represented the United States at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2022 – to enter a public art collection in Australia.

    Casting undertaken at Stratton Sculpture Studios in Philadelphia USA.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition