Shelley Vanderbyl

The Artist

My work comes out of a strong desire to provide hope and assurance to others. I work both with paint and plaster in various combinations. With my pieces, I want to beckon the viewer to an absorbing in-person experience - due to either their size, their surface texture, or the nature of their installation. 

The two main avenues of my work in communicating hope are my tiny pocket oil paintings and my chipped worn “fresco” plaster paintings. I want paintings that feel private for the viewer, like portals into a completely different space. I paint soothing landscapes, clouds, water... images with depth. 

Images speak to us in ways that words can’t. It’s hard to just tell someone experiencing brokenness/loss/grief that it’ll get better. So many things fall short of providing comfort, and most of the time, we don’t even know a hint of the loss someone is experiencing. How can you help heal someone that has never even spoken of their pain? I think that art is a way to provide comfort and to meet people where they’re at. I can’t control their circumstances, but I can present them with an image. Particularly interested in aiding people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with my practice I am exploring the question, “If what someone has seen can break a person, Can an image be a part of their healing?”. Over the years these have been given to people, as a pharmacist fills a prescription.  


Shelley Vanderbyl’s work has been in group and solo exhibitions across Canada, as well as in Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden.  In 2016, the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada honoured Vanderbyl by presenting one of her frescoes to His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.  Various hospitals have purchased her medicine tins to benefit their staff and patients, including the New Karolinska Solna, in Sweden. Her work is in corporate and private collections, across Canada, Sweden, the UK, Belgium and Switzerland. Particularly interested in aiding people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Shelley asks the question with her work, “If what someone has seen can leave them broken, can an image be a part of their healing?”

Shelley is represented within Sweden by All Art Now. Working from her Comox, B.C. studio, Shelley enjoys collaborating with like-minded people to enrich the lives of as many people as possible.

This is my life’s work: to heal, and to inspire.

Quote from curator Leona Herzog's essay on the Hope, Healing and Contemplation Exhibition Catalog:
Shelley Vanderbyl’s “pocket paintings” are created expressly for the purpose of providing comfort. She sometimes refers to them as “good medicine”.
Her tiny landscapes, nestled into empty, old-fashioned metal tins that formerly dispensed relief in pill form, now offer a new and holistic form of relief in moments of distress.
Hope, Healing and Contemplation, Buhler Gallery, St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, November 2018


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