“Painting from the soul” article in The Post, 25/01/14

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By Sarah McNeill

Lots of artists paint to music, but few paint on stage to a live band.

Geraldton-based visual artist Phil Doncon has developed the art of painting huge canvases on stage accompanied by orchestras or bands. For the Fringe Festival he will join local soul singer Shameem Taheri-Lee on stage in The Art of Soul.

Shameem, who has a Chinese-Malaysian father and Iranian mother, grew up in Nedlands, attending Nedlands Primary school and St Hilda’s.

Her original soul music, a blend of 90s R and B, 70s funk and a twist of jazz, has seen her become a popular supporting act for visiting artists, including George Benson at the Perth Convention Centre. She has also toured with Ronan Keating and Belinda Carlisle.

But she said one of her most emotional performances was singing the national anthem at Nedlands Primary School’s centenary celebrations last year.

Shameem said that she and Phil had spent a lot of time choosing which songs she would sing and in which order, so that Phil would be able to produce a canvas during a cycle of four or five songs. As the music intensifies, so will the speed at which Phil paints.

“The trick is to choose a set of songs that will match the art in mood and style,” Shameem said.

They have performed together before, but Shameem said they were developing a closer interplay of storytelling, song and moving art so that it was a fluid journey for the audience.

“People often tell me that watching Phil’s paintings emerge through the songs gives the music more depth and meaning,” she said. “The art underpins the emotions of the lyrics.”

The paintings are sold by silent auction at the end of the show.

The Art of Soul is at Kulcha in Fremantle as part of Fringe Worl don Friday, January 31, at 7:30pm.

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