Graduate Sherilyn Vilela chose to study with The Learning Connection from home as a Distance Delivery student, and says it was the best decision she's made for herself. We had a chat about her art and creative journey.
Hi Sherilyn. How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I live in a world of colour. My house is like a paint box that I wake up in each morning envisaging what I will wear. I look at my garden and conceptualise areas to play within texturally. In my art I look to the humanistic touch upon the landscape, develop a theme to research and create upon it. My love of colour and sense of the quirky compels me to express myself equally in both 2D and 3D. I seek creativity in all aspects of my life.
Why did you decide to enrol at TLC, and was it a good decision?
I met a few people years ago when living in Coromandel who had studied at TLC and really relished their time as Distance Delivery students. It wasn’t until I moved to Foxton Beach after my son left home that I was able to afford the time. I was really keen to have a better work-life balance as I hit my 50s. It was the best decision I made for myself.
What are some of the things you enjoyed most about studying at The Learning Connexion (TLC)?
Studying at TLC part-time over the last five years has been an amazing journey from beginning to end. Discovering my potential and diversity through exploration, invention, researching and transitioning between mediums, my personal drive and the amazing freedom to forge a path forward.
I met a few people years ago when living in Coromandel who had studied at TLC and really relished their time as Distance Delivery students.... I was really keen to have a better work-life balance as I hit my 50s. It was the best decision I made for myself.
How do you sustain your creative practice and where do you draw inspiration from?
Both my garden and the wildness of Foxton Beach give me great space to breathe and zone out from the daily grind. Found objects, photography, politics, our footprint on the planet, my sense of humour, the colours of nature, the tactile nature of fabrics, sometimes a toy, the clouds, a thought or a moment of whimsy. Ideas emerge and a process evolves.
Are your skills and approach to creativity transferable into other fields of your life?
I approach every day creatively, from getting dressed, to cooking, gardening, renovating my home, taking holidays and overcoming challenges. My work often flows on into my art through the use of fabrics and the skills I have acquired came about through just getting on with whatever the task at hand.
Describe a highlight, a wow moment of a recent work or creative experience.
Looking back over the last two years as I brought my Level 6 Diploma theme to completion, I discovered that my art (despite the variety of works I made and the rabbit holes I went into) had a kind of ‘overall look'. They had a mark or a style - something had developed which somehow was ME. I have since had it noted by friends. That was a WOW moment.
What advice would you give people starting out at TLC and wanting to pursue a creative pathway?
GO FOR IT. If creativity gives you a buzz, throw yourself into it. TLC offers an amazing amount of guidance and freedom to follow your dream and fill your heart. You will find your mojo along the way.
What are your creative ambitions? Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I love using a theme or story using different mediums - creating layers. I would like to continue developing upon this framework as installations or environments within a gallery setting. I will seriously need a larger studio than the abandoned laundry I currently inhabit.
Do you have a project you are currently working on?
I am expanding upon a group of fabric and sponge sculptures I started working on after lockdown, inspired by underwater corals and sea polyps similarly coping with their survival in an ocean world undergoing environmental change. They will be part of an installation connecting land and sea for a group exhibition later in the year.
In addition, I recently entered a 3D work entitled ‘Nature in the Balance’ into the Lysaght Watt Trust Art Awards in Taranaki. I'm also currently working towards an end of year group exhibition along with six other Foxton based artists to be held at Te Awahou Nieuwstrom (a public district facility in Foxton) initiated by renowned New Zealand artist Albert Mc Carthy.
I also have three works available for sale through the Whakakitea/ Reveal online student exhibition at TLC.
How have you transformed during your time at TLC?
Incorporating art regularly within my lifestyle gives me a greater sense of wellbeing. I have confidence in the way I like to express my creative exploits as well as understanding the need to critically evaluate my processes and look at how art sits in the harshness of the outdoor environment. I value the freedom in pursuing and continuing to explore without inhibiting diversity and I am happy to put my art under the banner of multi-media, with splashes of surrealism, pop art and installation as hashtags.