SHEILA from SHIELDS – Exhibition at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery

An exhibition is being held in South Shields to celebrate 81 years of inspirational art and animation of Sheila Graber.

Invited to open the exhibition was Pam Royle, Tyne Tees newsreader for more than 30 years. I caught up with Pam who told me how she first met Sheila.

‘I first met Sheila when she was doing some animation work for Tyne Tees Television in the 1980’s and we’ve been firm friends since.

I’ve always admired Sheila’s work from animation to illustrations to absolutely everything she does and the fact she teaches it with such patience and wisdom’.

‘Sheila has also met some members of my family. We’ve always been quite creative in my family, just love expressing ourselves through paintings, drawings, Sheila met my son when he was about 8 and he drew some things for her.

Basically, things like machinery, cars, tractors, aeroplanes that sort of thing. And then he went on to work in the countryside and on the land.

Sheila said it’s really interesting because what happens when you are young you draw things that have a relevance to your later life because you draw what you are passionate about’.

‘I think this exhibition reveals that art is so important to all our lives, it’s a way of expressing ourselves, it’s a connection with your soul and your mind. I just think this exhibition is fantastic and I’m so grateful that Sheila asked me and my family to be a part of it’.

Also invited to the exhibition to record a quick video message and talk about why she loves art so much was South Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck.

‘Art is so universal no matter where you are in the world no matter what language you speak it always can send a message to you and speak to you. Some of my favourite types of art are the religious ones.

Like Caravaggio where you can spend absolutely hours and just get lost in all of the detail.

Also I’m here to look at Sheila’s exhibition. Sheila Graber is a great friend of mine, a local legend, so please if you have an opportunity get yourself down here to have a look you won’t regret it’.

At the exhibition opening was Ray Spencer MBE, Director of the Customs House, South Shields. He talked about his first experience of art.

‘When I was a kid about the only art I saw was in museums or books, in books they were only little plates. I used to look at these fantastic portraits, landscapes and seascapes, but they were just little plates. If you went into museums you saw big plates or the originals’.

‘When I done my degree I went to the Louvre in Paris and it was the first time I walked into a room and seen the works of Delacroix and El Greco. I went to Amsterdam and saw Rembrandts – these huge massive things.

I was so excited so fantastically elated seeing something I couldn’t comprehend from those little books. That’s what I‘ve wanted to do all my time in culture to make people feel as excited as I did in the Louvre. Sheila has done that throughout her life’.

‘You look through this exhibition and you see how many lifelong friends she’s had, how many people she has influenced, not just to go professionally into the arts, but to always love and appreciate the arts’.

‘She has this enormous capacity to be interested in everybody, to light a flame in everybody to get involved in the arts. And importantly to believe in their creativity, not to be measured by somebody else’s creativity but to believe in your own creativity and to know what you do is important’.

‘That is something that we will all be thankful to Sheila for, for the hundreds and thousands of people that she has engaged with the arts’.   

The exhibition at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery runs from 17 May – 30 October 2021

For more info check the official website:

Interviews by Alikivi  2021