SHELLEY-ANNE GRAHAM (NHdip Fine Art) Art has always been around, before we had a name for it, it was there. From caveman scribbles, to Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, to the infinite shores of digital art, millions of artists, billions of work.

Allow me to introduce Shelley. She is a mixed media artist, based in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. Yes, another artist populating this world! Let’s take a brief look at her seemingly impractical career choice.

Shelley studied Fine Art, majoring in Printmaking, in the early 1990s. This was a time when you still had to use libraries for research and inspiration purposes. Even so, she managed to finish art school with numerous distinctions and awards.

Shelley followed the normal course for people finishing their studies. She put her CV out there and found work. Fast forward 20 years and you’ll see she worked as a graphic designer as well as a teacher on two landmasses. In that time she also married and had two gorgeous boys. At 47 years old Shelley finally decided to throw caution to the wind and became a fulltime artist. As we all know, starting out in anything that late in life is always going to be a challenge.

From the first moment Shelley can recall, she wanted to be an artist. For decades she delayed that process. Yes, studied fine art and taught art for 20 years. She cultivated creativity in others. Her yearning though was not as noble. She wanted to be the one to create. However, to her, that seemed futile. There are millions of artists out there; she felt there wasn’t space for another.

That was until the 20th October 2016 when she held her husband in her arms for the last time as he took his final breath on earth. If you had met Adrian you would have known just how many hopes and dreams he had had, for them, for their boys. To see them dissipate in a moment, with no more than a few minutes warning, was too much.

Pope Francis said, “There are some realities that you can only see through eyes that have been cleansed by tears”. Shelley’s husband’s last gift to her, tears. She sees now that life is to be held lightly. She sees that you need to follow that thing that makes your heart sing, or at the very least, to find moments to be free. This is her journey then. Following a dream, whether she fails epically or wins on a grandiose scale, she would have given it her best shot.

An apt word to describe Shelley’s create process is probably scattered. A thousand thoughts, a million moments, needs to be funnelled into final product. From Painting, drawing, collage, patterns, foliage, fashion, fabric, faces, and wings, form the basis of her work. Wings, a symbol of her faith; faith, not that God will make this life easy, but that He will never leave or forsake you, if you choose to believe.

Shelley hopes to inspire you, through her art and her circumstances, to look at life with new eyes. She hope’s you do not wait for them to be cleansed by tears before you cherish what you have or follow that dream.


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