shema - Shema Ladva

Photos from the exhibition Portraits from Sainsbury's by Shema Ladva

Born 1970 / West London, U.K.

BA (Hons) First Class / Subject: Illustration / October 1997 – May 2000 / University of Westminster.

Wife ... Mother ... Artist.

From the very beginning I have always felt being an artist would be an uphill struggle. It was never a path that was encouraged or pursued.

It wasn't till I studied for my A-levels that I realised how incredulous my choice of subjects would impact my life. My art lessons consisted on many occasions, me being the only student in class.

With limited experience in small talk at the age of sixteen, my tutor and I had a strained relationship. She was worldlier on all things art, I on the other hand growing up in Southall, had a very limited rhetoric on all things art. On many occasions my view on the art world was limited to the art room of my high school only. Little did I know of the changing world outside. Embarrassingly, at this point, I had never been to a gallery or exhibition.

One thing I do thank my former art teacher for is introducing me to the National gallery. There I saw masterpieces and a particular 19th century Irish painter, Francis Danby, and his powerful "Sunset at Sea after a Storm" left a penetrable effect on me.

Well if you're thinking of a change of events, you'll be wrong. Nothing much changed in the art room after that. On many occasions my art teacher was a no show and my art modules lasting hours. My only companion was a stuffed owl perched on a piece of wood which sat on the teacher's desk. I had nothing against all things stuffed but conversation was limited and very one sided.

The point I knew where I was failing miserably was when my teacher couldn't be bothered to teach me anything. The day's when she was absent was the days when a note was left for me to "study and draw that damn owl!" To this day I still have recurring dreams about the nocturnal creature that played a pivotal part in my life.

I failed Art A-level miserably and unfortunately it put me on a course of a very wasteful decade of nothingness.

After I left school I began to visit more galleries and exhibitions, my favourite at this point was the Tate. For the first time I saw works of art that were relevant and contemporary.

By the time I started at the University of Westminster to study Illustration in 1997, the YBA's were coming through. I found them exciting and refreshing. Disappointingly, the art scene had been changing a few years earlier and I had missed it all. Basquiat was a big noise in New York, Rachel Whiteread had won the Turner prize and Saatchi was a big player in the art world ... missed it all! I had a lot of catching up to do.

And that brings me back here, today. After graduating, I became the thing that was the hardest but the most rewarding ...a full time artist.

I'm still producing work I care about in various studio environments around London, Kew with its picturesque scenery, Bow with its harsh and unforgiving realities and finally Hornchurch with it's pace of tranquillity.

Some artists hate the dreaded question "what does your work mean." For me my work is self-explanatory. I draw from reality figuratively and metaphorically. Life has so many layers; I don't wish to add to its complexities. Critics and artist alike argue, if art is not thought provoking what's the point? My argument is art, heavy or light, can challenge anyone's perceptions. What you the spectator takes away from it is the real objective.

My work is about people, plant life and poultry (pretty much covers all of God's creation). I find inspiration around me , mind you I have to go further afield to find a chicken or similar unless there's a secret farm in Romford I'm not aware of.

My latest form of inspiration is Romford itself. Its harsh, brash and unforgiving but it has a treasure trove of colourful eclectic characters. Approaching people is daunting at times but rewarding. I'm currently working on the people of Romford and its surroundings. It's a melting pot of ideas, opinions and real energy of an Essex town.


Creative illustrative artist producing art inspired by my local community in Romford, Essex and beyond.

Shema Ladva - Artist © 2018. All artwork and other images on this website are the exclusive property of Shema Ladva - Artist and are protected under copyright law.

You must request and receive written permission from Shema Ladva - Artist, the sole copyright owner, to use any of these pieces of art and / or images in whole or in part.

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