Murals help inspire disengaged youth

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian

Whether he is working on a canvas at home or creating larger-than-life murals, Shah Jackey’s art is always an eye-catching explosion of colour.

Working predominantly with aerosols, the 37-year-old has created about 10 murals in Greater Geraldton, each piece a fusion of everything that inspires him; from comics and cartoons to hip-hop music and the world around him.

But Jackey’s murals are more than just beautiful, decorative pieces of art; many have been created with disengaged youths.

Through the City of Greater Geraldton’s U-Turn Project, Jackey has helped dozens youths explore their creative side in his Urban Art workshops.

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The father of two also lends a hand on art projects at the Flexible Learning Centre and in local schools.

“I still feel young at heart as well, so I guess that’s why I relate to them,” he said.

“Art is a way to express oneself with colours, materials and feelings.

“That little change in their daily lives with art makes a big difference; they feel a bit of pride and happiness that they’ve achieved something.

“There’s so much they can achieve, it’s just a matter of having a go, and if I can put a smile on one out of 20 kids (faces), I’m doing alright.”

Born in Katanning, Jackey always had a love for the art style of comic books and cartoons; the bright colours and thick outlines resonating deep within him.

While working at an abattoir, one of Jackey’s friends offered him a golden ticket into the arts world by suggesting he should study arts at TAFE.

With the full support of his family and friends, Jackey dived in head-first and kicked off his career as an artist about 10 years ago.

After moving to Geraldton with his wife, Erfana, in the late 2000s, Jackey’s street art opportunities rapidly grew.

Some of the most recognisable pieces in town were created by Jackey; from the massive mural on the side of the headspace building to the Parisian-inspired painting inside Orana Cinema.

Jackey said not only was the local arts community incredibly supportive, places such as the City of Greater Geraldton, the Arts and Cultural Development Council of Geraldton and the PCYC helped push his career further.

“All sorts of people have supported local artists to brighten up our little town,” he said.

“(Everyone has) lifted me up, they’re the pillars of how I started. And interacting with other artists around the world helps a lot; discovering what they’ve done, seeing how they work. I’m inspired every day.”

In 2019, Jackey will head to the Cocos Islands to redecorate a youth space.

Having previously decorated an old mosque, Jackey said he was honoured to be invited back to where his parents are from.

“They’ve suggested to me there’s no other person that’s perfect for that environment, so I’m happy and thankful that they chose me,” he said.

“That’s a big step and goal for me; I’m looking forward to going and being surrounded by water, working with my people. Going back home means a lot.”

To check out Jackey’s work, visit his Facebook page, Shah’s Art Studio, or his Instagram, Shah’s Art.

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