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Joe Shaw Artist - Thinking Outside the Box

In 2004, Stepping Stones School was founded for children with mild to moderate disabilities. Formerly an abandoned church building, the school operated with the belief that providing the right environment and support was key to unlocking their students’ potential. With small classes and an individualised curriculum, they managed to do just that and after starting with just 3 students, it quickly established itself as a successful alternative for those struggling to thrive in mainstream education. In 2016, it found a new home to cater for the increase in demand and Undershaw Education was formed, providing students with the opportunity to reach their potential.

One of the first students to embark on this journey was Joe Shaw. Joe went on to graduate from UCA Farnham in 2018, with a 2:1 BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art and has since established himself as a contemporary multimedia artist. His experience of having a disability does not define his artwork, but it does influence his ideas and visual voice.


What drew you to pursuing art as a passion while you were at Undershaw?

“Going up to London as a Stepping Stones student (now Undershaw) to see Anish Kapoor at the Royal Academy opened my eyes and my mind. This particular exhibition enthused me so much I did not stop talking about it, and previously I had been quite shy. Art lessons with Rosie at Stepping Stones made me realise that art is what I wanted to do, it ignited my passion and nurtured my belief in my ability.” 

Tell us more about the business side, where do you sell your pieces?

“Currently I am focusing on getting into galleries to exhibit and sell my larger original artworks. I often have stalls at events where I can show and sell my artwork and prints. These events give me the opportunity to engage directly with people and talk about my art.  I’m taking part in Hampshire Open Studios at the end of August, and will have flyer at Sundial with full details. I am also contactable via my website for private enquiries for sales of original works.”

What inspires the pieces you create?

“The majority of my artwork is abstract enough to entice the viewer to make their own interpretations. I want to spar intrigue and curiosity from my audience. My love of colour is a driving force. Vibrant, intense, high pigmented colours are used to create optical illusions.”

What are your next big goals and aspirations?

“Ideally, I would be represented by a high-end contemporary gallery. I have a desire to use my art to raise awareness and educate people specifically about disability.”  

Who or what was your biggest inspiration in pursuing art as a career?

“The scale of Kapoor's work and having to stop and think about what I was looking at and the meaning and message behind each piece. Realising that through art I could express myself, I particularly love observing people engaging with my art and their reactions be it good or bad it’s, all valid.”

Joe’s journey was captured as part of the Stepping Stones Alumni Series, filmed and produced by friend and fellow Alumni, Joe Johnson. Watch Joe’s story and hear more about his inspiration and the art that he creates.


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