South Tyneside artist's award-winning work goes on DVD - on her 80th birthday

A South Shield’s artist’s 80th birthday is being celebrated with a DVD tribute to her illustrious work.

Sheila Graber’s special occasion is being marked by the Customs House which has produced a limited edition two-disc DVD titled Sheila Graber: An Animated Life.

Sheila has produced over 100 films from her home-based studio covering a wide range of subjects.

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She said: “I guess I’ve been lucky to have had a very animated life, drawing, painting, teaching, travelling and of course animating. I’m delighted to have collaborated with the North East Film Archive in my 80th year to create this DVD.”

Sheila Graber whose life and work has been heralded in a DVD on her 80th birthday.

Sheila said anyone who bought the DVD would be “helping to support two charities that are close to my heart.”

In 2012 the North East Film Archive acquired the animation collection which is mainly shot on 16mm and 8mm cine film. The DVD sees Sheila guiding viewers through some of the best of her animations.

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Sheila, born in South Shields in 1940, trained in Fine Art and Education and began animating “just for fun” in 1970.

Ten years later, the hobby turned into profession. She gave up her post as Head of Creative Studies at a comprehensive school to pursue animation full time.

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Sheila Graber.

One of her early works is called My River Tyne and is one of several animations that draw on her Geordie background. She weaves together industrial history with fragments from a childhood as the daughter of a Tyne pilot master.

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Another work is the cartoon ‘day in the life’ of the BBC Look North TV news team with a starring role for the genial Geordie presenter Mike Neville.

The DVD includes an animation called ’12 days of Christmas’ inspired by her own designs for Christmas decorations on the walls of the comprehensive school where she taught.

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The second DVD brings to life Sheila’s love of animals and especially cats.

Sheila's tribute to Look North.
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Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer said: “We are delighted to work with the North East Film Archive to produce this DVD. Sheila is an Icon of animation and for more than half a century has been enthralling people with glorious storytelling in her own unique style.”

Sheila has won many awards and international acclaim and she created the animation for Paddington Bear and Mr and Mrs Brown for the television series Paddington.

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Her early 1980s animations of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories for Nicole Jouve of Interama, were distributed across the globe.

Graham Relton, Archive Manager of the North East Film Archive, said: “Sheila Graber’s animations are a highlight of the North East Film Archive collections. We are delighted to have produced this DVD so audiences across the world can take a glimpse inside the creative mind of this truly inspirational and talented woman, a pioneer in her field but very much down to earth, it’s no wonder she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Royal Television Society.

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Sheila's tribute to the River Tyne.

‘Sheila Graber: An Animated Life’ is available from The Customs House or online at priced at £15.

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Another of Sheila's works.