Leslie Thompson (b.1970)


Leslie Thompson has a highly developed drawing style, drawing both from memory and through live observational drawings.

Artist Biography


Leslie has been attending Venture Arts studios for over twenty years. He has a highly developed drawing style, drawing both from memory and through live observational drawings. Leslie depicts scenes from popular culture, mostly from the seventies and eighties, and his drawings are often punctuated with memories from film, music and TV. More recently animals have been a major inspiration to him.


He has gained a reputation as a fantastic mural artist, creating bespoke murals in the head offices of LADbible and Sheila Bird Group in Manchester. He also specialises in capturing events through live drawing, and has worked with DadaFest, Creative Minds North, Hubbub Theatre as well as illustrating many Venture Arts events.


Leslie found success when he sold a whole body of work on the opening day of the OutsiderXchanges project booth at The Manchester Contemporary, 2016. He has exhibited his work widely across the UK including a major solo exhibition at Project Ability, Glasgow in 2017. In 2019 he exhibited internationally for the first time as part of a group exhibition in Tokyo.


In 2021 Leslie’s intricate piece, ‘Animals from Memory’ was acquired by the Government Art Collection  – as part of their Art X-UK acquisitions. Over the year, the Government Art Collection collaborated with contemporary art networks to collect new works by 45 visual artists from across the UK, celebrating and supporting the diversity of creativity across the Union. ‘Animals from Memory’ will now be on display in Government offices around the world.


“My art is about cartoon strips, buildings, people and other things. I’m the best at drawing animals, I see them at the safari park. I’m proud of myself, I’m a superstar. My art is of all history of god’s world we live in.” – Leslie Thompson


In 2022 Leslie is taking part in Narratives, the third in our pioneering Conversations Series, in which learning disabled artists work alongside emerging contemporary artists over several months, producing new work through an equal exchange of art and ideas. This current collaboration will result in an exhibition at The Lowry in January 2023.




The Manchester Contemporary, Manchester Central, 2022.


YESS LAD, TJ Boulting, London, 2022.


Completely A Hustling Place, Manchester Central Library, 2021.


In the Detail, Project Ability, Glasgow International Festival, 2021.


Thumbs Up, Castlefield Gallery, 2020.


Environments, Outside In, National Open Art Exhibition, London, 2019.


Venture Arts at The Manchester Contemporary, Manchester Central, 2019.


Manifest Arts Festival, Hulme, Manchester, 2019.


Grow, Group ceramics exhibition as part of Hey Clay! Crafts Council, Venture Arts, Manchester, 2019.


Springfest, Victoria Baths, Manchester, 2019.


ParaArt TOKYO, International exhibition promoting the art and culture of people with learning disabilities in Japan and the world, Japan, 2019.


PERSPECTIVES, Venture Arts, various venues in Manchester and Salford, 2018.


Spilling Out, Joint presentation with Castlefield Gallery and Venture Arts, The Manchester Contemporary, Manchester Central, 2018.


Leslie Thompson, the Superstar Artist Drawer, Project Ability, Glasgow, 2017.


OutsiderXchanges, Quay Gallery, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, 2016.


OutsiderXchanges, The Manchester Contemporary, Old Granada Studios, 2016.


It Is Now, International Summit for Learning Disabled Artists, Glasgow, 2015.


MADE, Venture Arts Studio Show, People’s History Museum, Manchester, 2015.


The Art of Nature, Venture Arts Studio Show, The Lowry, Salford Quays, 2014.


Articulate, Venture Arts Studio Show, The Lowry , Salford Quays, 2013.



Live drawings:


Social Works?:Live, Axisweb and Manchester Metropolitan University, 2019.


Age of Creativity Conference, The Whitworth, 2019.


Creative Minds North, HOME, Manchester, 2017.


Dadafest, Live Drawing, Liverpool, 2017



Site Specific Mural commissions:


The LADbible HQ, Manchester, 2018.


The Sheila Bird Group Head Office, Manchester, 2017.