Born in Brisbane, Sharyn spent her childhood in the small seaside town of Hervey Bay, and returned to the city, when she was in secondary school, where, due to family circumstances, she was unable to accept a Tertiary scholarship to study Fine Art. Sharyn was interested in sewing from an early age (her mother was a qualified dressmaker and milliner), and she remembers at a young age making clothes for her dolls and ‘teenage’ creations in later years. During the 70′s Sharyn worked with her mother making soft toys and simple children’s clothes and accessories for sale. After learning to screen-print, she incorporated her original designs into the children’s clothing and toys they were producing. She began stitching traditional Patchwork Quilts when their popularity spread (around 1980), and within 5 years she was teaching these techniques.
Sharyn qualified with an Associate Diploma in Visual Arts, majoring in Textiles & Surface Design, at the Brisbane College of Advanced Education (now the Queensland University of Technology), in 1988. This led to her further exploration in the areas of fabric manipulation, machine embroidery and fabric dyeing.
Sharyn was invited to participate in several community projects in 1988, and also completed a number of private textile commissions during this time. Her strong sense of community led her to curate (for 14 years) the Needlework Competition of the annual Brookfield Show, organising the annual sponsorship of 50 categories and the display of 400 entries. She was editor of the local tabloid paper for four years during this period. Sharyn was later (1999) awarded Life membership for her commitment to the society.
Throughout the late 80′s, her own artwork continued to explore the surface manipulation of fabrics, and she attended many workshops and seminars by national and international artists, relating to embroidery, dyeing, patchwork and quilting. She also continued to teach in the areas of fabric dyeing and machine embroidery. Sharyn’s first joint exhibition: Dyverse Experiences was held in 1990 and included examples of her dyed and manipulated textiles.
Her interest in fibre papers and collage, combined with her experimentation into photography, photocopying and computer imaging, led to her first Solo exhibition: Inner City – Inner Self, held in 1992. Sharyn used these techniques in conjunction with her fabric processes, combining paint, ink and paper to create her first series of mixed media works.
She was at this time still actively involved with Patchwork and Quilting, as founding president of Schoolhouse Quilters, and with teaching at local and interstate conferences. Her interest in Japanese Quilting led to the self-publication of Sashiko Designs, a book of quilting patterns, in 1993.
Sharyn has consistently exhibited her work in local and interstate group exhibitions. In 1996 Sharyn held her second solo exhibition Merging Identities, which followed her first trip to central Australia. The same year, her work was selected for an exhibition, featuring 20 Australian Quilt makers, in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, where Sharyn travelled to present a display of her work. She was asked to curate an exhibition of 20 Quilts from Queensland, which toured to the United Kingdom and Belgium, in 1997. Also in 1997, her quilt Salient Steel won the inaugural Australian Quilts in Public Places Exhibition, and her work featured in a solo exhibition at the Australian Quilt Festival in Melbourne. The Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery, acquired her work for their permanent Textile Collection, in 1998.
In June 1998, Sharyn was awarded an Arts Queensland grant, attending the Shift National Textile Symposium in Canberra, also working as an intern with the Canberra School of Arts Gallery. She completed a commission for BERNINA Australia in late 1998, designing and stitching a contemporary quilt and 12 smaller quilt panels, used as advertising and promotional material for their sewing machines and related product.
In 1999, her work was selected for the Australian Art Quilts – from bush to sea exhibition, which toured to Germany and another quilt placed third in the European Quilt Championships in the Netherlands.
Sharyn has participated in several community art projects, including working with children and adults as resident mask maker at the Surat Bush Festival and as designer and artist in charge of the Brisbane Boys College Centenary textile Wall Panel.
Her fourth solo exhibition was held in 2000, titled Bridging the Gap, featuring work which combined computer generated images, printing on textiles and stitched and manipulated surfaces. This work challenged her art practice and she realised her need to seek information on processes for printing photographic images.
In 2001, Sharyn was awarded a Churchill Fellowship, and travelled for four months to Japan, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and France, where she studied surface techniques, including the different transfer processes of photographic images, including computer manipulated and generated imagery, to textiles. This study has allowed her to explore these techniques in relation to her current art practice.
Sharyn was awarded the Quilters Guild Scholarship for 2003, and she travelled to study surface design techniques and attend the Surface Design Association conference in the USA. She also spent time studying in several Art schools throughout the United States. Sharyn attended the 2005 Surface Design Association (USA) Conference, which allowed her to keep abreast of new developments in the fields of Printing and Dye Processes.
Sharyn’s work has been published in magazines relating to Patchwork and Quilting, in the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and Australia. Her work is included in the Australian Patchwork Directory, Textile Magazine and on the Bernina CD Rom.
Sharyn has been teaching textile related workshops since 1984, and has been invited to present lectures and slide talks for various Guilds and Associations across Australia. During her Churchill Fellowship trip, Sharyn presented lectures in Japan and the United States. She has judged the major quilt shows of the Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian, Western Australian and Northern Territory Quilters Guilds, and juried major textile competitions and exhibitions. In 2006 Sharyn was selected as the feature artist for Bernina Australia (sewing machines), and travelled and exhibited her work nationally, representing the company.
In 2010, as Featured Artist at the Expertise Events Craft and Quilt Fairs, Sharyn travelled nationally to exhibit her artworks, while demonstrating her materials and processes.
Sharyn continues be involved in the numerous supportive Guilds and Groups who provide a network for artists. She has recently served as Vice President of ATASDA, The Australian Textile Arts and Surface Design Association (2 years) and as the inaugural President of their Queensland Branch (3 years). In 2009, as co-ordinator of Exotica, the Association’s 35th anniversary exhibition, Sharyn oversaw the organisation and presentation of member’s artworks which travelled nationally. She was recently awarded Life membership for her service to the Association. Sharyn has also served on the Ozquilt Network committee (2 years), has been a member of Queensland Quilters and served as President of Schoolhouse Quilters (several times), after founding the quilt group in 1990. She is currently a member of the Surface Design Association (USA), the Australian Surface Design Association, World Shibori Network – A/NZ and Queensland Spinners Weavers and Fibre Artists.
In 2006 Sharyn organised and coordinated the production and printing of a deck of playing cards, reproduced from miniature quilts created by members of Schoolhouse Quilters. The resulting sales of the card packs raised $15,000 for Breast Cancer.
Sharyn has consistently exhibited her artworks, more recently as part of the Up Over/Down Under exhibition organised by ATASDA, where her work was selected to travel to Philadelphia. Images of this artwork were selected to promote the exhibition (in advertising and as invitations). Her recent three dimensional mixed media installations were exhibited at Fairfield Gallery (Sydney) and Pine Rivers Gallery, where her work was again selected to promote the exhibition (in advertising and as invitations).
Since 2010, Sharyn has increased her studio work – with excellent opportunities for exhibiting locally, nationally and internationally, Sharyn is looking forward to creating new and exciting artworks for exhibition and sale.