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I have been friends with Sheila Graber, South Shields very own internationally recognised and well-known artist, ever since she became a class mate of my sister Brenda, in the mid-1950’s.

Sheila is immensely talented, her work is known all over the world.  Far too many skills to list here but they can all be accessed via her website: SSCRAINBOW (, along with the story of her highly successful career.

Having been invited to put on an exhibition of her work at South Shields museum and being the selfless person that she is, Sheila dedicated a huge area of the exhibition space to the display of artwork by some of the hundreds, if not thousands, of students who have benefitted from her help, advice, skills and teaching.

For much of Sheila’s long and varied career she has taught all kinds of artistic talents to people of all ages.  Some ex-students have taken the opportunity to display pieces of their own creations and some have simply provided comments about the pride and joy they experienced when learning from Sheila.

When I began to paint as a hobby a few years ago, I mentioned to Sheila that one of my paintings was influenced by an animated cine film she made in the 1970’s about the artist Mondrian.

She obviously didn’t forget because she invited me to display it in her exhibition, which I was quite pleased about, even though her invite was more to do with types of artwork and ex-students rather than an expression of how good their work was.

The information below is taken from Sheila’s book, which is to be published shortly and is a shortened record of the full exhibition.  After publication I should be featured on page 50, or thereabouts and this what Sheila says.

John Lightfoot MBE


I remember the great jewellery making film John & his wife Lilian made at the cine club in the mid 1970’s. They moved on from jewellery to selling window blinds and gave me my first commission; to design this logo for their new family business in 1975.


As a mechanically minded Chief Engineer, John went on to invent a special roller sunscreen which acted as “Sunglasses for Ships.”  This grew into his Internationally successful company “Solar Solve”, gaining him and later his daughter Julie, a well-deserved MBE.

Recently John has turned his skill to painting as in: “My Day in TI:ME Quads”


John said, “I remembered Sheila’s Mondrian film premiered at the cine club about 45 years ago and created this painting based on his work. That’s how much impact Sheila’s film had on me.

His Neo-Plastic period is really an engineer’s delight, using only squares, rectangles & primary colours. In my painting, the number of hours in a day are symbolised by quadrangles.”

If you can visit the show in person, it is a great way to while away a couple of hours or more; but hurry, it ends on 31st October.  Admission is FREE.  Otherwise it will be on Sheila’s website for a lot longer, for anyone to view anytime.

In my next blog I will regale the story of an exhibition visitor’s theory about MY DAY IN TI:ME QUADS.

John H Lightfoot MBE