Through the lens of a camera or painted in acrylic, the charm and unique light of the Algarve has been captured from two quite different yet utterly complementary perspectives. Photographer Dave Sheldrake and his wife, painter Alyson, were drawn to the region for those reasons exactly, and now, they showcase their work side by side, fulfilling something of a dream they have always harboured.

Having discovered the pretty fishing town of Ferragudo through friends around 10 years ago and immediately falling in love with the place, Dave and Alyson bought a house here soon after in preparation for the plunge they were about to take: leave their demanding jobs in the UK – Dave was in the police force and Alyson was director of education for the Church of England – and embrace the simple life in the Algarve. And that is exactly what they did. Armed with paint brushes (Alyson) and a camera (Dave), the couple moved to their home near Ferragudo and are now happily doing what they most love – she in her sunfilled studio, he on the beaches and traditional streets of the Algarve.

Deciding to avoid the traditional gallery route and run their own exhibition, mainly to avoid commissions and therefore keeping their prices low, the couple approached the Holiday Inn in Armação de Pêra to showcase their work. With a great response, they held their first A3 Art exhibition at the hotel in April last year, and since then it has become a regular event with a loyal following. In fact, the exhibitions have gone so well that this year also sees the couple showcase their work at Hotel Carvoeiro Sol. Entitled “New Beginnings”, their first art and photography exhibit and sale in Carvoeiro took place between March 29 and April 3, the first of a number of shows scheduled for this year.

The popularity of their work needs no explanation. Alyson, a self-taught artist, has won over art lovers with her unique style, with most of her best-known work belonging to her self-titled ‘New Wave’ collection. “I always have a focal point, like a lighthouse, drawn out as technically as possible, and everything around it is a series of waves of colour, shape and texture. Once I know the main feature, the rest of it just falls into place,” explains Alyson, who, instead of painting on canvas, prepares her own boards to create the ideal texture for her acrylic paintings.

Filled with the colours of the Algarve, her art is vibrant yet harmonious, which can also be seen in her latest work – the bold, bright flowers that have proven to be extremely popular. These are in fact the perfect example of how Alyson and Dave’s work goes hand in hand, as the artist was inspired by a close-up of a flower shot by her husband. “We do work together in a way,” says Dave, a police sergeant-turnedphotographer. “Alyson often paints from one of my photographs, or I might get sent out on a ‘mission’ to capture a specific tree or boat, or I might come back with something that will instantly inspire her.” And it’s not hard to see why Alyson would be inspired by his work.

A beautiful sunset over the sea, a rickety door, a wrinkle-faced man… Dave’s photographs depict the Algarve at its best – and not without seawashed feet as a regular memento. His work also shows his fondness for photographing people, especially in ‘street photography’, where he simply asks strangers on the street if he can take their photograph. Speaking of the wonderful colours and light here, particularly during the so-called ‘golden hour’ around sunset, Dave notes: “I’ve seen some skies out here that will literally take your breath away, and actually trying to capture it is quite a challenge. How can you not be inspired?” It’s clearly a lifestyle that suits the pair, whose passion for their craft and optimistic approach to life is infectious. Also accepting commissions, Alyson admits she’s quite unique in that she doesn’t ask for payment up front until the client is happy with the finished result.

This also applies to her Pet Portraits, which she will be demonstrating at the International Algarve Fair in Lagoa on June 1 and 2, as well as presenting a pet portrait for the Dog Show’s “Best in Show”. Their work can also now be appreciated through a collection of affordable costume jewellery designed by silversmith Something Xtra Special, which includes necklaces, pendants, key rings and cufflinks. Dave and Alyson may be at their happiest when they’re each doing what they love, but they also get great pleasure from seeing people liking their work and hearing the stories behind why they want to buy it. And if you’re lucky enough, you might even spot their ‘happy dance’ every time a piece sells.

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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