Artist profile: Leonie Anholts

The Local Rag caught up with Leonie Anholts- an artist creating and capturing all things wonderful. We discovered Leonie through her instagram @leocreativeleo where she showcases snippets of her various work such as her recent collection of handmade ceramics. 

Another focus point of Anholts’ work is capturing women in surfing through photography-especially in Raglan which she has another instagram account for- @surfgirlnz. 

Whilst Anholts’ works come in many forms her style remains uniquely hers and follows the same creative patterns- with it all capturing a rare form of beauty. We could talk for a while about her work, however she does a pretty good job of that herself in the following catch up. 

Who are you? 

My name is Leonie Anholts, I am 30 years old and I grew up in a small town in the Netherlands. I studied design at Academie Artemis in Amsterdam and after graduating, worked as a flooring designer at Forbo Flooring for 2 years. I created a homogenous vinyl collection for hospitals and travelled all around the world to present my colours to architects (China, Hong Kong, all around Europe eg. France/Scandinavia/Germany/UK) and asked for feedback to fine tune the collection. In my second year as a flooring designer I decided to book a summer holiday to New Zealand to visit my best friend who was backpacking. 

On the day I arrived he told me to meet him in Raglan (he just started a job at Raglan Backpackers) and I absolutely fell in the love with the place. I spent almost every single day of those three weeks in Raglan. I instantly fell in love with Raglan and knew I had to quit my job and move to Raglan. When I came back to the Netherlands I finished my flooring collection, sold everything I owned, packed my bags and booked a one way ticket to New Zealand. 

I also convinced my brother to do the same thing so he travelled to New Zealand in January 2017 and I joined him in March. My brother’s partner (also from the Netherlands) also moved to Raglan and so did two of our friends and another friend of mine that I studied design with in Amsterdam. 

Being on the other side of the world, It’s so great to have family and such close friends living with me in Raglan. I feel grateful for this everyday. I’ve now been in Raglan for 5 years and on Tuesday (the first of March) me and my brother  and my brother’s girlfriend are finally able to apply for residency. We are so blessed to call Raglan (New Zealand) our home now. 

What do you do/ create? 

In all honesty there are so many things I love doing (surf/brand/wedding photography, pottery, art) that I’ve always found it hard to stick to one thing. I have a lot of ideas that sometimes overwhelm me as I don’t always have the time to execute them all. I do find that there’s usually one thing that’s grabbing my attention, at the moment that’s (women) surf photography. I guess the core of everything I do is creating/capturing beauty. 

What I want people to feel when they see my work is to appreciate life. And the beauty in the world-ness. Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we lose the connection to ourselves. 

We become identified with our thoughts and we have no headspace to notice the beauty around us. This happens to me multiple times per day. When I create (or in this case, take my camera out) I slow down and become present. Especially when I’m out in the surf. Juggling a camera, being in the right spot, moving my body and capturing/interacting with the surfers at the same time requires focus and presence. 

With pottery it’s the same: creating beauty and at the same time it’s my practice of being present. Having my hands in the clay gives me a sense of ‘earthing’ and it’s almost become some sort of meditation practice. 

I currently work for Raglan Food Co (as a photographer/designer/admin manager) but I set my alarm early everyday (around 6am) to first meditate and then do pottery (hand building) for an hour before I start my day. I put on some inspiring podcasts/books (I am a huge fan of Joe Dispenza/Eckhart Tolle/Abraham Hicks) and find it really relaxing and inspiring to start my day with clear intentions and visions of my life. The pottery I make is (like surf photography) inspired by women. I am forever in awe of the female body and love to create female body vases/pencil holders to celebrate women in their fullest embodiments. 

Why do you create, is there any special inspiration or meaning/ end goal behind anything you create? 

If there is one thing I would want everyone to know and experience is that we are the creators of our reality and there’s nothing we cannot be, do or have. We are taught to believe that our dreams are like fantasies, that it’s just in our imagination and we have to face reality. 

I experience the world very differently. In my experience, our desires and dreams are not random. They’re indicators of what we are here to express. We are so capable of creating the life of our dreams and I am beyond passionate to capture women in their fullest embodiment to remind them of this power. It is a power that I see in women when they surf. 

They’re connected to a great intelligence. It is my wish and intention that my photos are a reminder of this inner knowing and that my photos are something they can always fall back on when they get caught up in life and forget that we really can do anything. 

What is your ethos when it comes to creating? 

With everything I do I strive to act on what represents my true heart’s passion and joy. I feel that my emotional body functions as a guide. Joy, bliss, ecstasy, excitement, inspiration feel good precisely because they’re guiding me into more of the truth of who I am. 

In my experience there doesn’t seem to be a straight line as we’ve learned in school, and as our parents teach us: get a job, work for fifty years, then retire, then be happy, then do what you want to do—once you are crippled, old and crumbly, and when you can’t do the things you want to do anymore. So to take a different approach and act on your highest excitement one moment at a time without projecting that it has to proceed along a certain line and have a certain end goal does require a lot of trust and faith but will ultimately be so much more fulfilling, effortless, blissful and joyful. 

Tell us about a piece you’ve created recently.

I LOVE capturing the Raglan surf girl community at the moment. It’s so cool to see how this has changed in the last 5 years. I started surfing when I first came to Raglan (6 years ago) and in the last 5 years I’ve seen the amount of women in the line up grow so much. 

There is a real surf girl community now and it’s the best feeling to see girls dancing the waves of New Zealand, sharing the passion and love for the ocean. I hope that my photos of them remind women how perfect they are right now. 

How worthy they are right now. How this very moment and the journey you’re on is worth celebrating/being captured. We’re never going to get ‘there’. There will always be something to improve on. There will always be new goals and things to work towards. It’s never going to be perfect. Life is now and it is all there is ever going to be.

by Leilani Goodall