An Australian woman has used her retirement as an opportunity to combine her love of music and art through making button versions of iconic singers, past and present.
Sharyn Harrex, who lives in Bribie Island North, in Queensland, Australia, has had an interest in art since she was at school, which disappeared and was reignited around five years ago after retiring from her job running her and her family’s own real estate business.
She has also spent the past few years renovating several homes which led to her developing a “liking for reusing second-hand materials wherever possible”.
“That led me to recycling old picture frames, broken jewellery and now more recently buttons to create my art pieces”, the 62-year-old told the PA news agency.
“Old broken jewellery represent art on their own to me so the challenge then is to use these items which are already shaped and coloured to create my own unique pieces for others to enjoy.”
So far, the self-professed music fan has replicated in button form artists including Sir Elton John, Sinead O’Connor, Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, Pink, Ed Sheeran, Prince, Snoop Dogg, Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe and said that each piece takes at least 50 hours to create.
She said she tends to use anywhere between 500 and 1,500 buttons on any one portrait, depending on size and layering, and started making button art about four months ago.
“The process involves sourcing and preparing the frames and backboards, either painting the subject or chalk drawing, laying out the buttons and jewellery to get the desired effect and shadings then once satisfied with that lifting all the buttons etc off and gluing down prior to sealing”, she said.
“I love buttons as they are already coloured and come in so many shapes and types.”
Buttons for her pieces have come from her home, treasure markets and charity shops.
She added that she researches each “subject” to “ascertain particular features, favourite songs and styles to portray an individual story for each piece”.
For her depiction of Sir Elton John, which she said was her “favourite” and so was “first cab off the rank”, she added some unique touches to try and tell a story about who he is.
“I have used a small rocket pin on his hair in reference to ‘Rocket Man’, a rose ‘Goodbye English Rose’ from Princess Diana’s funeral and a miniature grand piano in reference to his piano playing”, she said.
“These items help to tell his story and are recognisable to all which is what I am trying to create right down to ensuring the gap in his front teeth is perfectly replicated and of course his statement eyewear which he always wears as part of his attire.”
Another singer she depicted was the late Sinead O’Connor, with Mrs Harrex mentioning that working on this piece was an “emotional experience”.
“Sinead O’Connor has been a particularly emotional experience due to the sad life she endured, recent passing and her beautiful rendition of Nothing Compares 2 U”, she said.
“Whilst creating this piece I feel like I am putting her back together one button at a time, after being broken.
“Becoming attached to the subject makes me feel I would love to travel to Ireland to take her home and perhaps dropping into the UK to deliver my favourite to Elton John.”
Mrs Harrex has shared her work on Facebook and said that seeing comments and positive reactions from social media users has been “extremely humbling”.
“It gives me great pleasure to see others enjoying my art as much as I enjoy creating it,” she added.
Sir Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Dolly Parton and Olivia Newton-John are some of the stars who are next on the list for Mrs Harrex.