In His Own Words: Shaun Keefe Audio Slide Show

One of the biggest influences on me was a neighbour who was also a school friend. He was into pop art and illustration.

One day he asked me if I wanted to see the film of The Monterey Pop Festival at the Odeon cinema, Union, St Oldham, way back in 1972.

The film was great, but for me, the big thing was the support film, the farewell concert at the Albert Hall by my all time favourite band, Cream.

This film had a massive impact on me.

I bought a guitar, or should I say, my mum and dad bought a guitar for me, from Woolworths. It was an electric guitar and at the age of 12, it meant the world to me. It had a battery powered amp so I didn’t electrocute myself!
And so the love affair with music began.

Shaun Keefe Guitart Union Jack
I took a few really basic lessons from a guitar teacher, I think was called John Nuttall.

I ended up together with a few school mates and I tried to thrash out ‘Alright now’ – as people did back in 1974.

At this time my interest and ability in art began to take shape, mainly due to a great art teacher, Mr Gallagher.
One of the next big influences on me was when I went off to art college in 1978. There were gigs every weekend, clubs, festivals. I had an awesome time.

GUITART by Shaun Keefe

After art school I pursued a career in advertising, so I’ve never been too far away from the excitement of the creative process.

Since 2010 I’ve been a full time artist, combining painting and photography.

And as I say, I’ve been playing the guitar for years, so music has always been a massive passion.
I got great inspiration and influences from Cream, Hendrix and Zeppelin to The Stone Roses and Oasis.

So all of this seemed like a good and enjoyable theme for the art that I produce today, which I call GUITART that’s G-U-I-T-A-R-T that’s all one word.

Shaun Keefe Guitart - Ibanez

In a list of design icons of the second half of the twentieth century, the electric guitar would be close to the top.

And the people who love electric guitars are not just the people who play them.

The whole world loves electric guitars.

Everybody has their own favourite piece of music that remind them of a certain time, and the guitar plays its part in peoples’ memories.

I want to plug in to this affection that people have with guitars. I try to combine the beauty, colour and style of guitars with my original paintings.

The large canvases are a mixture of hessian, cotton, gauze and sharp sand. And for the paint medium, I use acrylics, with oils, pastels, emulsions, spray paint and inks. It’s a form of art that’s truly mixed media.

Shaun Keefe Guitart Norman and John

The finished canvases are then placed with various guitars in situ, photographed and treated in a range of photo effects.
The images are then printed onto textured stock paper weighing 400 gsm. All are limited edition signed prints.

In some ways I still behave like I did when I was 17, but without the same energy or hair!

I’m just as interested in new bands like Chris King Robinson as well as classic performers such as Eric Clapton, and that continues to inspire the art I do today.

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An edgy, sensual exhibition and brand launch

I have to admit, I love sensual art nude photography but I don’t get to do very much of it! Most of the time I photograph buildings, cityscapes, buses and everything we see around us. Luckily I know someone who is producing the most amazing work in this genre, encompassing both fine art and photography. That person is a woman and her name is Karen McBride.

She’s an accomplished rock photographer. I’ve followed her career over the years, and I’ve worked with her at the In The City music convention and festival, which sadly ended in 2010.

Karen McBride rock images from 2003
Karen McBride rock images from 2003

Recently however she has turned her attention more and more to the beauty and allure of the female. Like her rock photography, she does it in an edgy and individualistic way. The images are not explicit, they are actually quite mild in comparison to what you might see nowadays, but at the same time, they’re very sensual, artistic and alluring.

I find that many art nude photographs to be an exercise in form and composition, and can be rather sterile. At the more extreme end of the scale, images can be shocking, overtly sexual and go beyond the bounds of good taste. Karen’s images take us just a little bit along the spectrum of sensuality, but are arousing because of what they promise rather than what they deliver.

Karen McBride publicity photograph cropped versionKaren has also turned the camera on her own body, challenging us to react and ask questions: Is this image more shocking because she is wearing a bra rather than a bikini top? Don’t women reveal just as much if not more when they are wearing an evening dress? Is this a suitable image to be used as a publicity photograph? See the full version on the interview page.

It’s certainly different to many of the female publicity photographs I’ve taken in the past, including lawyers, solicitors and councillors!

Are Karen’s images shocking? Well, you can make your own mind up by reading the interview I did with her to promote a very special event in Manchester. It’s called ‘Stripped Back’ and promotes her fashion brand Karen McBride Manchester, as well as showcasing a selection of her paintings and photographs, featuring two very charismatic women.

The article is located in the ‘Portfolio’ section of my site.

Click here to go to
Karen McBride Manchester photographer on her ‘Stripped Back’ brand launch and exhibition

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