At school Susan discovered her aptitude for art and her work was hung in The London Royal Academy of Arts children’s exhibitions. Her school years were spent at boarding school. On leaving school she found work at the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology. In 1973 Susan visited Italy where she has lived ever since. The beautiful Renaissance city of Florence with its museums, art and history captured her heart. On arrival she followed an Italian language course at the British Institute as well as drawing classes at the Florence Academy of Fine Arts. For seven years Susan worked in the Italian fashion industry and from 1981 she taught English but continued to draw and paint.
From 1987—2000 Leyland began to make her first sculptures with the help of Florentine artisans learning from their skills and traditions. During this time she was also working as a riding instructor.
In 1999 Leyland held an exhibition at the important Tornabuoni Gallery, Florence, then a second in Saratoga Springs, NY. In 2000 she decided to dedicate her time to horse sculpture, creating in 2004 “Horse Block Sculpture” where the contemporary and the classical merge.
Leyland has taken part and held solo exhibitions in different countries and cities: UK, USA, Italy, France, Sweden and Germany with collectors world-wide. In England, Sunningdale, at the Alan Kluckow Fine Art, in London, with Frost & Reed, the Medici Gallery, the Horsebox Gallery, at the London Heathrow Airport, at Fulham Palace, the Wandsworth Museum and in Oxford and Bath. In Italy, she has exhibited in Florence with the Tornabuoni Gallery, Pietrasanta at the Barbara Paci Art Gallery, at The Museum of Marino Marini, Pistoia, the Town Hall of Pontassieve, Casa D’Arte S. Lorenzo, Arte A Colori Colle Val D’Elsa, Arezzo, Milan, Asti, Lerici and Naples and participated at The Biennale di Venezia. In USA, in Saratoga Springs, NY and in Santa Monica, CA. In Germany in Stuttgart and in Toulouse, France at the Sakah Gallery, Paris and La Baule. She has also participatted at contemporary art fairs in Miami, Istanbul, London, Bologna and Genova with reviews and articles in magazines and newspapers in different countries, receiving the American Academy of Equine Art Director’s award in 2008.
About the Ascot Memorial Susan says: “I have had the great honour and privilege to create The War Horse Memorial. I have portrayed a horse standing motionless, in poignant remembrance. A horse whose silhouette, shape, body language, anatomy and detail incorporate and reflect the tragedy of all those horses, mules and donkeys who endured the 1914—1918 Great War. The only movement is in the tail, caught in a slight gust of wind, to give a sign of life and hope for the future that their sacrifice was not in vain.”