An Interview with Sheelagh Peace (visual artist)

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Sheelagh Peace creates images of gothic looking figures. Her pictures challenge the mainstream depiction of women; whilst also presenting them amongst beautiful backgrounds and clothing. I decided to ask her a few questions about how she produces her work:

How does your creative process begin?

The creative process starts with me looking through fashion magazines for some good photographic references. I also add other elements such as jewellery, animals and background design. I often start and then discard work until I finally get an image that feels right.


What do you hope to achieve with your work?

I want to create an interesting, detailed drawing which is highly decorative. I also like surface pattern a lot.  However I don’t aim to create pretty works of art; there is always an element of darkness in my work. The themes of my art are fantasy, other dimensions and post-apocalyptic worlds. Powerful women are a constant theme as well; although in general I produce romantic imagery with an edge.


Where do you look for inspiration?

Inspiration comes from within- often emotional responses reflecting how I’m feeling at the time.


 Have other artists influenced your work?

I am very interested in other artists. Particularly the Pre-Raphaelites, Gustav Klimt, Aubrey Beardsley and more contemporary artists like Mark Ryden and American Surrealists.


How did your interest in art begin?

I have always been interested in art, from an early age onwards. I was always interested in fashion, the drawing of figurative art and creating an alternative world.

Do you prefer contemporary or historical art?
I like both historical and contemporary art. I am not interested in conceptual art however, as I like to see some degree of craft ability in an artist. A lot of contemporary artists rely on concept rather than actual artistic ability (there are some exceptions e.g. Grayson Perry).


Did you study art conventionally, or are you self-taught?

I have been to Art College a lot. I did a Foundation course followed by an HND in graphics. After working in commercial design I had a large family. When they were small I did an academic degree in History of Art. Later I did a second HND in Fashion and Textiles, this led onto another degree in Fine Art at Newcastle University. I recently also did an MA in fine art. I thoroughly enjoyed that route; and I feel that I have the intellectual clout that helps me know what my work is about. The MA also helps with credibility when approaching galleries.

Would you recommend the life of an artist?

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the life: I am an artist, it is my calling, but my husband finances me. It is hard to survive without a benefactor, particularly when you are establishing yourself. The starving artist in the garret is not very practical. Yet I never considered anything else.


Did you ever consider a different profession, or have you always wanted to be an artist?

I am also good at writing, I am considering self-publishing next year, it would be a book of my writing which I would also illustrate. If I was younger I would definitely want to do computer graphics for the games market.

Other than visual art, what influences your work?

I love Sci-Fi, I was intensely influenced by the film Bladerunner in the 80s. I also love most fantasy films, most recently the Hunger Games, I found it aesthetically exciting. Other things that influence me include: Harry Potter, Romantic poetry, dark Scandinavian rock music and vampires and all that Goth stuff.

For you, what is the most annoying aspect of modern life?

My beef about the contemporary world is that individuality is not appreciated. There seems to be a world of clones, because it has become increasingly difficult to be different.



Sheelagh’s Website address:


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