I seek out to create an infringing force within our humanity by using the figure and concept of the animal. The images I create focus on encroaching animals in places and forms that we consider properties of humanity. My earlier work was based in creating an illusive image with exaggeration in proportion and form, but as I progress my works relate to interrupting a reality through more subtle inclusions of the animal form in it's natural state.
This motif that carries through in my images is based in the manner in which I spent my childhood. My home city is that of Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario. Sault Ste. Marie is a smaller city located along the Saint Mary’s river in between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. My home was on the fringe of the city. From the time I was born until I moved away to London to take on my post-secondary education the wild was a part of my day to day life. It was not uncommon for recess in elementary school to be canceled due to a bear wandering onto the playground. I had bears, foxes, moose, wolves, dear etc... in my back yard frequently. What was mine and what was nature's was, and still is, a vague boundary.
Apart from my cultural philosophies founded in my upbringing, the study of anthropology fuels my concepts. I am very interested in how the animal functions within humanity. Whether it be economics, cultural fables, our food…etc, anthropology provides a backbone to my conceptual research.
Are there particular characteristics which attract you to the animals you feature in your paintings?
What draws me to the animals I depict stems from a personal correlation I share with the creature either through experience or culture. The choice of animal is often the result of the space I wish to use, but can work vice versa as well. The animal I choose has to share some strong cultural significance with the space I choose to depict it in.
Where do you find the inspiration for the spaces in which you place your animals?
I always have a camera on me. I never know when I'll discover the next architectural space I wish to explore in my work. Sometimes I will have an idea set before I find the space, but more often than not it's pure chance that I discover a space that would serve well in my work and have great compositional value. For example my piece Foam actually depicts my bath tub from my old apartment. The idea came to me while actually taking a bath. I realized the composition of shampoo bottles and loofas was brilliant.
Are there particular themes or mediums you anticipate exploring in your upcoming work?
I've been dabbling in some ink drawings based on the field of Biomimcry, but it has become a side project for now as I am completing some paintings from some concepts I had at the beginning of the Summer. My preferred medium is acrylic paint. I find there is much more experimentation happening with the acrylic paints that allow me to explore the effects of iridescent and interference colours in my work. I find myself also beginning to integrate part of the animals' natural environment into our own subtly through color and form.
Many thanks to Shelby for sharing your beautiful paintings.
What do you think of Shelby's work?