Name: Shirley Peters (nee James)
Born 1953, Twin with Carmel James.
Place: Sydney Australia
College: 1972-73 National Art School  Alexander Mackie Teachers College
Part Time: Julian Ashton Art School, Computer Graphics College.
Sydney Gallery School at Meadowbank
Breaking news: Moving house and studio to the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Mid September 2014.

Recent Activities:
2020: Open Studio
2019: OPen Studio
2014 Recorded video for  "Colour in Your Life" Series 7 Episode 11
2014 Workshops in Putney (at my studio)
2014 Teaching at The City of Ryde Art Society (Mondays)

2014: Feature Artist (x2) Daily Paintworks (USA)

2009: Highly Commended in the Noel Chettle Art Award for Portrait and Life Drawing
2009: “Feature Artist” Art Whats On
2008: “Artist to Watch” Art Whats On
. 1990: Shortlisted and Honour Book, Children's Book of the Year (illustration)  Mervyn's Revenge by Leone Peguero
. 1990: Commended, Best Jacket Design of the Year: Counting on Frank: The Bulletin Award
. Various web design awards 
Solo Exhibitions:
. 2014 "Sydney Blues" Gallery V
. 2013 "Le Tour de France: Democratic Art" Arps Gallery Amsterdam, Netherlands.
. 2013 "The World Below"  Gallery V
. 2010 "This Change Thing..." ...
Brunswick Street Gallery, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Group Exhibitions: 
. . 2012: "Fresh Paint" at Balmain Watch House
. 2012: Hunters Hill Art and Craft Show
. . 2011 FRESH #III at Balmain Watch House

. 2010 FRESH #II at Balmain Watch House

. 2009 FRESH at See Street Gallery, Meadowbank
. 2009 RUSTED at Tap Gallery, Sydney
. 2009 FRACTURE, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney.
2009, Brunswick Street Gallery, Victoria (Painting 09A) Group Show

. . 2009: Brunswick Street Gallery, Victoria (Portrait 09) Group Show

. 2008: See Street Galleries, Meadowbank 
. 2008: Hunters Hill Art and Craft Show
. 2002: Julian Ashton's Art School, The Rocks
. 1998: Willandra Art Gallery 
. 1996: Kelly's Gallery, Epping 
. 1994 c: St Ignatious Art Exhibition
. 1993: NSW Library Travelling Exhibition (NSW) Society Of Book Illustrators 
. 1972–3: Randwick Tech Art School (pre-COFA) Exhibitions
1971: HSC Art (Pottery) selected for travelling exhibition

. President Society of Book Illustrators (NSW) 1990-1992
. Member: Illustrator's Society of Australia
. Member: Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators (USA)
Member: Chinese Australian Painting Society 

. 2008/9: studying for the  Diploma in Fine Art: Painting and Printmaking at the Sydney Gallery School, Meadowbank.
2003: Creative Writing, Sydney University.

. 2002: Printmaking and Etching: Julian Ashton Art School
. 1998: Multi Media Certificate at the Computer Graphics College, Sydney
1997: Still Life Oil Painting: Willandra Art School, Ryde

. 1991: Quark Xpress Certificate (Advanced) at the Computer Graphics College
. 1990: Quark Xpress Certificate at the Computer Graphics College
. 1974: Graphic Design Certificate (part) Randwick Tech Art School (pre-COFA)
1972 -73 Diploma in Fine Art: Randwick Tech Art School (pre-COFA), East Sydney 

. 1971: HSC: Art major: Pottery.

My Art Life Story 

"Well, my art career started in 1958 when I won an art competition for a drawing of Little Red Riding Hood.

"I was five years old, and totally besotted with drawing, but more so, colouring-in. Every week my mother would buy me a colouring-in book, and I had to complete the book before she'd buy me another. I loved these books... I remember flowers, animals and little children frolicking.
One day, she bought home a book of trucks. I was shocked. All straight lines and angles... no curves. I did not want to colour them at all. I asked her why had she bought me a 'boy's' book? Poor mother, she replied that all the 'girls' books were sold out. What a precocious brat I was!

Sadly, I do not have that first masterpiece, Riding Hood. (Above is a fake, done from memory.) No one kept it. In later years Mother said it was not very good!! I'm glad no-one told me that at the time, as I was convinced I was a master. From then on I was going to be an artist when I grew up.

This is a self fulfilling prophesy: if you think you can draw, then you do draw, which means you practice, and so you get good at drawing. Simple!

A fleeting mentor

My next experience with the art world was at the age of 8. My family visited a neighbour who had a garage studio. He painted horses. They looked very impressive. I don't think I ever knew his name, and we never returned. But those horses I will always remember. On reflection, he might have influenced my next stage in art appreciation: horses.

Teenage Odd Behaviour

In my tweens I drew horses. I painted horses. I read about horses. I studied their anatomy. In fact I was a total pain in the neck, and I'm surprised that my family didn't disown me.

School Art

Of course, I was not the perfect student at school. I would doodle while listening to the teacher. (The point here is that I was listening!!) The teacher would notice my eyes down, and a pen in my hand. She would then confiscate my doodle. She kept a years worth of doodles, then sent them home to my parents to demonstrate my bad behaviour. My father leafed through the pile of doodles, and said: "Shirley, you can do better than these! They are not very good."  AHHHH! I couldn't win.


My twin sister and I were always in the school art room. We were there at every opportunity, and for me, pottery soon became a passion. I 'majored' in pottery for my end of school art exams, and my father took over my wheel after I left home. He went on to do many thousands of pots and ceramic sculptures. (

Becoming art teachers...

My twin sister, Carmel James, and I wanted to be art teachers. At the time, there was a very generous scholarship plus living allowance. In fact, the government would pay us to do the course. So we both applied, and it was on a first in, first served basis.

On the morning that we were to receive our Higher School Certificate results, I took the train into town with the application forms. I positioned myself nearby the technical school's admin office, and phoned Carmel who was waiting at home for the postman to arrive. She opened the letters... hooray, we both did really well!... I filled in the final marks onto the forms and they were duly delivered. Needless to say, we got in.

I change my mind...

I loved art school: there was painting and life drawing, sculpture, jewellery making, photography and great company. But my frustration was with painting. We were given no instruction. Just left to our own devices. So many of us snuck off to the pub and enjoyed our painting classes from a distance.

I moved out of my parents home, and moved into an ex-brothel with four girls and one boy.
We didn't know about the brothel thing until a man knocked on the door and asked "Are you working tonight?" We assured him that, no, we were not 'working', and closed the door. Suddenly the light dawned... that was why there were so many bedrooms in the house... and two outside bathrooms, accessible by two stairs. It was a purpose built brothel and had been a part of the infamous Chapel Lane ganglands not-so-long ago.

My poor parents were dismayed. They tried to talk me into returning home, and when I refused, they bought a house in a nearby respectable area for me to rent. So myself and a girlfriend moved away from the red light district, and moved into a small cottage in Hopetown Street, Newtown. It was not suitable for painting, so for a while my 'practice' suffered.


Seb, as he was known then, was my boyfriend since I was 15 years old. We decided to get serious and move in together. The little house would not do, as my parents visited from time to time. (In the 70s one did not live in sin!) So we rented a flat in leafy Mosman with beautiful city views. I painted a little, unsure of any direction.

After two years at 'fine art' school I switched to graphic design. What a change! We studied colour, tonal values, hues. We painted shades and tints, colour wheels and so on. And this was in the first week! Suddenly I had found my niche. I loved typography, printing, advertising, logo design. It was a career I knew I could handle... in fact, excel.

Graphic design

My first design job was for a huge American insurance company (Combined Insurance). I was given a top floor office, next to the CEO. My job was to hand draw the sales newsletter every week. Those were the days of letraset and rapidiographs, portraits and caricatures! It was two years of light weight fun, was well paid, but I could not see any future as an artist in such a company.


I applied and was accepted into Waltons Advertising as a layout artist. This involved creating preliminary pencil sketches of the newspaper ads: usually it was a whole page, and sometimes one, two, or three columns. The text and the product had to be illustrated, even the heading was hand drawn. When finished, and approved for creativity and suitability, it became the central 'blueprint' on its journey through the various departments of an advertising company. It was photo copied and delivered to many people: photography: copy writing: typography: and finished art.

We saw the future!

We used tracing machines for resizing text and photographs, which gave us the idea for the computer. 10 years before it appeared we often discussed the possibility that one day we would do the layouts on a TV screen!!! So when Apple produced its first little box, we all just nodded and said about time. Although I was annoyed it did not print out from underneath. Why a separate printing machine? Why not have an all in one? They still don't have that, today, in 2011.

Studio Life

My final working-for-someone-else phase finished with two years in a graphic design studio. There I was creating logos, brochures, labels and marketing material. I was well paid and learnt a lot at John Brain Productions.

Self employment at last

I started my own company in 1978, with my husband Seb. His real name is Bob Peters, and you can see his amazing photography at
We did graphic design and photography to this day... although my painting is now almost full time, and the graphic design has almost disappeared.

Children's Book Illustration
I was lucky enough to meet and work for Margaret Hamilton. She became a book publisher, and gave me a start in the publishing field. I did many young reader books (e.g. Mervyn's Revenge), a few picture books (e.g. Amy's Bath), and I wrote and illustrated one non-fiction (The Graphic Design Book).


We have two children, born 1982 and 1983. Natalie and Mitch are wonderful human beings, and are both successful and a constant joy.
Natalie is a journalist newsreader for a top Sydney radio station: 2GB, and Mitchell has his own building company that is growing every day. 

Stroke (hubby)

My darling husband has suffered a stroke in April 2010. His busy photographic life is now only half pace as he tries to recover a damaged left half of his body. The stroke was caused by his camera bag's strap pressing against his neck. It slowly crushed his carotid artery, until one night, bang, the artery closed up completely and stopped the blood flow reaching his brain. No other indicators. He had low cholestrol, low blood pressure, no diabetes etc. Such bad luck!

2012 - 2014
Represented by Gallery V, Sydney
Teaching art at Ryde Art Society (part time.)

Full -time painting

We have sold our city home and moved to the rural outskirts of Sydney. Mulgoa is now our home, and we have kangaroos in our backyard!
Currently renovating a large storage shed to become a new studio.

Thanks for reading!

Shirley A. Peters.