As an artist Sheila makes work in a range of media – performance, installation, participatory event and moving image. She works both as a solo and collaborative artist, and originally trained in contemporary dance.
She is interested in the relationship between art and science with particular focus on hybridity, crossings, carefully controlled experiments, the practice of medicine and care, colour, genetics and love. She is an artist who champions making work for the passer-by. She is currently working on and touring Common Salt with artist Sue Palmer as part of her ongoing Rambles with Nature series, and developing her latest project Elemental.
She has shown work at venues and festivals across Europe including Belluard Bollwerk International in Switzerland, Fierce Festival in Birmingham, NRLA in Glasgow, Trouble Festival in Brussels, Performance Space in Sydney and the Wellcome Collection in London.
As a collaborative artist she is a long-standing Associate Artist of Blast Theory and has toured and performed nationally and internationally for them and many other companies . She also teaches in Academic contexts and regularly mentors artists and students and gives public talks.
Sheila is an Associate Artist for Clod Ensemble’s Performing Medicine Project, regularly working with medical students across London and is currently an Associate Research Fellow in the School of Arts at Birkbeck.
In addition, universities she has taught at include, Queen Mary University (London), University of Salford, University of Hull (Scarborough), University of Birmingham (School of Education) and King’s College London.
Across summer 2017, residents at two St Helens housing schemes shared gestures of goodwill and got to know each other as part of Getting To Know You, a project by artist Sheila Ghelani
This summer artist Sheila Ghelani worked with the residents of Helena Partnership scheme, Parr Mount Court and Heald Farm Court.
Each week participants were invited to take part in events and activities which included sound craft and photography (to name but a few of the things they got up to) all with one purpose in mind – to reach out to residents who weren’t present and generate new bonds and conversation between those present. Together neighbours explored the thresholds and boundaries that exist in their communities.
Ghelani is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, installation, participatory event and moving image. She has been helping the participants create extraordinary gestures, that reach out to their community of neighbours and beyond to the residents of the other housing scheme, and invites others to step over their thresholds within the scheme.
They have assembled and then given out bunches of flowers and bracelets, created a set of performative photographs and finally 260 bespoke tea cups.
Sheila Ghelani, explained back in September 2017:
“The project is nearly at an end. The final artistic outcomes, our photographs and the tea cups, are both in production and all that remains is for me to deliver them to participants when they’re ready, in a kind of mass gifting event. I say mass gifting as one of the outcomes be is a fine bone china teacup which every resident in each housing scheme will receive to keep.
There have been lots of highlights throughout the project. A particularly enjoyable moment was conducting some home visits – so taking the art to residents in their own homes, those who weren’t able to attend the weekly sessions in the main common room of each scheme.
Another highlight was bringing some of the residents of the two housing schemes together in a final mid-morning party. They really enjoyed meeting each other! I’m also hoping the final artworks will be a highlight too.”
I also loved the assembling and delivering of flowers in the very first session. It caused an exciting stir in both scheme. I also had a great research visit to the St Helens archives, let’s just say there were lots of highlights.
The final artistic outcomes of the project are a teacup with a pattern on it designed by myself/residents and a set of 3 posters featuring photos of the residents revealing a small piece of info about themselves in front of what can only be described as a kitsch backdrop.
Each scheme will get a framed set of the images to hang somewhere. Of course, there were lots of other outcomes from week to week – deep conversation over different types of making, gestures of good will and invites sent out to those not present, music, cake, gifts etc.”