9 January 2017
Creative Victoria would like to acknowledge the passing of John Leslie OBE, a generous patron of the arts and a contributor to Gippsland's community life over many decades.
John's philanthropy and boundless community spirit leaves an immense legacy, especially in his beloved Sale and surrounding district.
John was a City of Sale councillor for nine years, a Freeman of the City and Patron of the Gippsland Art Gallery as well as its leading benefactor.
The Gallery hosts the biennial John Leslie Art Prize, one of the most prestigious landscape art prizes in Australia, thanks to John's initiative and support. Last year's event attracted entries from 426 artists from every state and territory within Australia. Their collective effort speaks volumes for the reputation and prestige of the John Leslie Art Prize.
John was not only a patron of the arts, but also played a central role in Sale's local arts community. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Gippsland Art Gallery after he convinced former Premier and Minister for the Arts, Sir Rupert Hamer, of the need to establish a regional gallery in Sale.
The Gallery has become an important community hub – and will be part of the new Port of Sale Cultural Hub development due to be completed later this year.
John was a successful businessman and his interests and support extended to many aspects of cultural, sporting and civic life.
Many artists, creative professionals and community members have been beneficiaries of John's generosity. He leaves a great legacy and his name and community spirit will forever be associated with Sale's cultural and community life.
Victoria is honoured to have had a man of John Leslie's calibre and generosity as part of our community and he will be sorely missed.