Saturday, August 29, 2015

An eye for detail: Meet artist Gill Shaw

Last week I wrote here about Geraldine Jones, an artist who uses dyes derived from plants to create her fabric art. This week, I profile Gill Shaw, another talented artist who also finds inspiration in nature.

Artist Gill Shaw, photographed at the vernissage for her exhibition in Eymet

Shaw’s husband’s profession as an architect, took the couple to Nairobi, Kenya, Tanzania, Cyprus and back to the U.K. Retirement brought Gill and John Shaw to the Lot-et-Garonne department where they’ve spent the past few years renovating a pair of ancient farm buildings on the outskirts of Cancon.

Artist Gill Shaw, right, and her husband, John
Throughout her travels, Shaw has created beautiful art inspired by images and objects found in the world around her. Her methods combine painting, embroidery and appliqués. 

Shaw describes her process as exciting and painstaking:

“Over weeks and often months, I very gradually develop and then evolve a final conceptual design, which I transfer with paint onto the fabric base. Then begins the painstaking and often exciting evolutionary process of hand embroidery, using cottons, silks and metallic threads with appliqués of netting, gauzes, beadwork, suedes, wools and leathers to create the singular, totally unique final picture.”

In Shaw’s pictures, one can vicariously share the artist’s journeys. Elephants, rhinoceros, lions and ducks, which the artist sketched or photographed, are among the models for pieces she created while living in Africa. More recent pieces feature French flora and fauna. 

A South African shelduck is featured in a piece by artist Gill Shaw.

Wild garlic (ail sauvage) by artist Gill Shaw
In her more than 25 years as an artist, Shaw has created hundreds of pieces. I asked if she had any favorites:

“I have several pieces that I am (especially) fond of … some I no longer have as they have been sold or given away or are on loan to an art gallery in Gloucester,” she says. “However, I have one that I will never part with as I was asked this same question by a lovely gentleman I was caring for when I worked as a care assistant in a nursing home. He bought the favorite picture in my exhibition and then left it to me in his will.”

Water on seashore rocks (mare entre les rochers)
by artist Gill Shaw
In addition to her art and the home renovations, Shaw also teaches English a few hours a week at a nearby school. She often spends time with her grown children and six grandchildren; Louis, 15 months, lives nearby and she’s happy to babysit when needed.

Seaweed in rock pool (algues marines) by artist Gill Shaw
Gill Shaw’s art can be seen at Café des Arts in Eymet (24) through Sept. 23, 2015. The exhibit is free and is open 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. every day. 

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