Shellie Cleaver’s still-life paintings infuse everyday objects with transcendental ideas of time and composition. Whilst the objects depicted are not often associated with any kind of monetary value, Shellie looks to each of her subjects as a means to break up and punctuate moments in time. Acknowledging their unremarkable nature whilst drawing these objects onto an unusually high platform, Shellie’s works point to larger philosophical ideas concerning metaphysics.
In its material make-up, Shellie’s art-making practice unfolds structurally from the base up: She spends time composing the objects before moving to her canvas, which is stretched and prepared before the first sketches are added. A dark, background colour is applied before the outlines of the objects themselves are added in acrylic paints. Whilst Shellie prefers the sensory experience of oil paints, the reliability and practicality of acrylic makes it a better day-to-day option.
Shellie’s commitment to her practice has revealed itself in time: “I always loved to make things and by the end of high school I was determined to become an artist. I studied Fine Arts at the National Art School in Sydney and participated in group and solo exhibitions after that. I have been creating art for over 15 years. Last year I committed to re-establishing my artistic practice to a professional level and this continues as I develop my body of work in the still life painting genre.” Following her time as NAS, Shellie completed a Masters degree in painting at Melbourne University, which she acknowledges as an important step in broadening her knowledge of the art world, artists, materials and techniques.
Other than painting, Shellie works as a library assistant and is glad to be surrounded by books when she’s not surrounded by paints.
Whilst her practice is predominantly a solitary experience, Shellie notes she would like to collaborate with other artists on “something ambitious, something you couldn’t achieve on your own, something profound and beautiful.”
Shellie’s art education includes ‘Fundamentals of Painting’ with Michelle Hiscock, a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National Art School and a Masters of Cultural Materials Conservation, Painting Specialisation, at the University of Melbourne. She has been in countless group shows and solo exhibitions, and had works published in The Sydney Morning Herald with reference to the ‘ Six Young Artists’ exhibition at Mary Place Gallery.