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CETG Online Talk on Monday 17th May 2021

Shelley Rhodes - Creative Journeys


Shelley Rhodes delivered a fascinating talk for CETG about how she has developed and how she approaches her work as a contemporary mixed media artist.  Following a degree in Graphic Design she was offered a job by the BBC and spent the next seven years producing graphics and logos for a variety of programmes.  Shelley then did a teaching certificate and went on to teach at Secondary school level.  She also did a C&G course in ceramics.  However, when her husband was offered a job in America and Shelley went with him she decided it was practical to work more with textiles.  


On her return to Lancashire she took various C&G textile classes. This reintroduced her to working in sketchbooks and she started doing a page a day in an A6 book which she still does now as she finds it the best way to keep drawing.  These are posted on Instagram @shelleyrhodesartist.  Shelley continues to work in sketchbooks and always takes one when she is travelling, along with a small selection of art supplies.


In 2007 she did a summer school with Gwen Hedley followed by a weekend course with Julia Capara and was then invited to join the Textile Study Group.  In 2010 she did a Printmaking residency at the University of Cumbria for six months.  Around this time she started fragmenting fabrics she had printed and also to work in a series.  She is always exploring different materials - latex, waxed papers, plaster, burnt holes etc.  Text and grids regularly appear in her work which is the influence of her graphic design training.  


In 2018 she published her first book ‘Sketchbook Explorations’ and realised that for the past 15 years she has been arranging fragments.  On the 5th August 2021 her second book will be published by Batsford called ‘Fragmentation and Repair’. 


During lockdown Shelley went on long walks gathering pieces later used in her work and now she is looking into coral bleaching and the damage caused to marine life by plastics.  She always has an A3 workbook for a new project and jots down any ideas she wants to develop.  It includes samples, mind maps, drawings, photos etc.  She decided to make one hundred pieces representing coral.  They are mostly white to represent the bleaching they have suffered, with just 5% in colour to show the reefs around the world that haven’t been affected.  She included discharge paste, thermofax screens, knots and the pieces all became irregular.  The finished work was over 4m long and took over a year to make.  It went on a touring exhibition for two years and when one of the pieces was sold she replaced it with a print of the piece on tracing paper.


Although we all know it takes lots of hard work and dedication to produce beautiful work like Shelley’s, her talk made us feel that a logical approach and daily practise would make it possible to create something beautiful and interesting. 


Text © Michaela Matza CETG

Photos © Shelley Rhodes

Shelley Rhodes
Shelley Rhodes
Shelley Rhodes
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