Shelley Sacks Welcomes You

Artist in Tokyo


Black Acrylic, Ink and Gold leaf

When I first came to live in Japan, I felt bombarded, both visually and auditorily, by the language of my newly adopted country. A language that I immediately tried to make sense of, through the shapes of the kanji (Chinese characters), Hiragana, the Japanese alphabet and Katakana which is the Japanese alphabet for foreign words. Calligraphy is an ancient art form that I am intrigued by, especially where the shapes tell profound poetic stories, that to many today, are not clearly understood. These art works symbolise my personal connection with the language and the gold leaf brings a richness to them.



My name is Shelley Sacks and a central belief of mine is that we are all artists. These actual words were echoed by the German artist, Joseph Beuys who used this expression to describe what he felt was “the essence of what it means to be a human being.  The deep need and fundamental ability to create and be creative”.
When living in Cape Town, South Africa, I pursued my self-expression through sculpture, where I worked in an art studio under the supervision of the world-renowned sculptor, Barbara Jackson. In 1991, I emigrated to Sydney, Australia and learnt how to work in oil, acrylics, charcoal, and mixed media. My journey as an artist continued to Tokyo, Japan, where I presently live and focus on acrylics, ink, mixed media and incorporate my photography into my work. I am an emotive artist and create from within, layering and living the process of my art, until it's fruition. 
My art has found homes in the USA, Australia and South Africa. 
In 2004, when living in Sydney, Australia, I participated in a group exhibition, EDGE, and currently am attending classes at the Sekaido Culture School. I also work in a studio of my own here in Tokyo. 

Artistic Practice
I have been an Early Childhood Educator for 43 years and art has been an integral part of the teaching process in my classes, all these years.  I have created canvasses together with the children which were auctioned off to raise money for charity. I have composed poetry, songs and stories for children throughout my years of teaching and allow the child in me to live each day. Each of us has something to share with the world and I have spent many years working with young children to help them understand, that "You too can make a difference".  
My biggest influence has been my very existence and what I personally have experienced in my life, spanning three continents and two hemispheres. My story is one to be told.
I do not believe in naming my art but rather in allowing the observer to see that which they choose to, in all that I create. Having spent the past 17 years in Tokyo, Japan, I feel humbled by the culture and aesthetics that are an essential part of my life today. 
I sometimes use a style that I have adopted from Japanese Calligraphy, together with gold leaf which I feel symbolizes the richness of this ancient culture. I recycle paintings by incorporating pieces of them, in my work. Colour can abound in some of my art together with gentle textures and strong shapes. My aim is to allow images to unexpectedly emerge mirroring the core value of simplicity which is very much at the heart of my philosophy of life. 
I see my art as unpredictable and the unknown.
This is what I love most about my art. 
“I see what I see; and you see what you see”.


Life in the time of COVID

During Covid-19, I felt the urge to create art that I felt represented me together with other humans, as I navigated my emotions and the physical imposition that was thrust upon the world. These art works are a combination of
transfer-lift prints of my photography, acrylics, shellac, and collage.


Acrylics - Mixed Media

Colours abound in these art works that have an abundance of layers. They were what they were, and they are what they are; evolving over time. We, too, have many layers and these paintings somewhat mask those hidden parts of ourselves that are only visible to a privileged few.



This series was inspired by the famous Japanese artist Shinoda Toko. The title Ikebana came to mind immediately, as the shapes married and the lines merged, representing nature and the simplicity of its beauty and form.


Large Canvases and Paintings

These large canvasses were created at different times in my life. They reflect my creative energy and perhaps the challenges I was experiencing in myself when working on them. I am a deep intuitive soul that lives openly and honestly and many of these paintings express this.


Acrylics, Japanese kimono fabrics, Collage and Mixed media.

These canvases are covered in my photographs printed on acetate, Kimono fabric and acrylics. Certain components are 3-D. Japan has been my home since 2004 and aspects of it have infiltrated into my soul.


Photograph, Collage and Shellac

I love finding that something that catches my eye, through the lens of a camera.

Many years ago, before digital photography was invented, 
I had some of my photographs printed onto acetate and transferred

parts of the photos onto paper to create art work such as these.
They are a combination of my photographs, acrylics, some collage and shellac.





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