Shelley was born in east London, daughter to a jazz trumpeter and a tap-dancer. One of four sisters, she regularly skipped school to draw and paint in the local forest, understanding at an early age the relevance of both art and the great outdoors to her future life.
She studied for four years in London, at Camberwell School of Art, undertaking a painting commission for The London Palace Theatre while a student, and receiving a Crafts Council Graduate award in her first job as assistant designer/maker for John Hinchcliffe, carrying out design contracts for Saks New York, Selfridges and Habitat.
Moving on to work as a designer and stylist for several West End companies, notably Courtaulds, Pomme and Christy’s, she began to develop her own practice as a designer/maker, working to commission and exhibiting across southern England.
Alongside her own creative practice, Shelley became involved in working with young people interested in the arts, co-ordinating an inspirational project in West Sussex involving music, writing and the visual arts, then moved on to working motivationally with adults.
The arrival of children saw a change in direction, pure painting and drawing became more significant and in addition, experiments with clay began to take shape as a complement to the two-dimensional work.
Her work now reflects both the presence and absence of tranquility in her life – she experiments with the play of light and shade, the beauty of line and, through ceramics, the complexity of surface pattern, her subject matter extending from European urban and rural landscapes to still life and figure studies. Future work will see a move towards further unifying these eclectic influences.
Now Shelley works from her two studios in Bristol, is a member of Jamaica Street Artists, North Bristol Artists and Bristol Fringe, has exhibited at the RWA and continues exhibiting as widely as family demands allow, showing work in London, France and the south-west of England.
She works increasingly to commission and also takes part in several community projects which provide her with the stimulus she required to continue enjoying and developing her work.
Some of her projects also include:
Lighting Up – Art for people suffering from people with Alzheimers, Bristol
Art in the Park – Annual Bristol children’s community art exhibition
Colston’s School Mosaic – a whole-school installation to celebrate the abolition of Bristol’s slave trade