Art for a purpose

Western Australian artist and print maker Leon Pericles has been honoured with the appointment as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia as part of The King’s Birthday Honours 2023.

The award is for his significant service to the visual arts, particularly to printmaking. Leon’s career has spanned more than 55 years and is filled with a long list of ways in which he has contributed to the advancement of the visual arts in Australia.

Leon and his family have been wonderful supporters of Alzheimer’s Research. In 2018, Leon completed a beautiful piece for his wife Moira – ‘Etching for Moi’. Leon and Moira are donating all profits of the sale of this work to AARF, to help the foundation provide funding and facilities for research into ways to prevent or delay the onset of the disease and slow its progression.


A story of love

‘Etching for Moi’ tells a story of Leon’s love. The lighthouse represents Moi as a strong figure who has withstood a lifetime of storms and anything nature has flung against her, but whose light shines regardless. The note filled clouds speak to Moi’s passion for classical music and the lighthouse is surrounded by a sea of floating flowers reflecting her capacity to remain buoyant, happy and positive. Moira’s name is spelled out in nautical flags. The clothesline is symbolic of the traditional workload that has historically been the burden of wives and mothers.


The work was completed in 2018, when Leon held a 50-year retrospective show in Perth. It was a major exhibition and he had to work frantically to assemble work and create new pieces for the exhibition. However, instead of focussing solely on his art as he would have done in the past, Leon found himself juggling roles as an artist, husband and carer for his wife Moi, who has Alzheimer’s.


For most of his career, Moira had handled the business side of his art practice, distributing his artwork to galleries, managing staff, and taking a curatorial role. About 10 years earlier, she had first begun to experience symptoms of dementia. In 2018, her cognitive abilities were experiencing rapid decline, and Leon and his family had to balance Moira’s care with the heavy demands of the exhibition.


Thank you

“Watching someone you love decline into dementia is a very personal experience, and Leon shared it with us, to bring a better understanding of this condition and its impact.” – Liza Dunne, CEO of ARA.

“We are extremely grateful to Leon that in a time of significant sadness and stress, he thought about how he could contribute to make people more aware of the impact of Alzheimer’s, and to make a generous financial contribution so we can move closer to a future without this disease.”