Shelley is an artist who works across disciplines to promote sustainability and ecological citizenship by widening and deepening human consciousness. Born in South Africa and having studied “social sculpture” with Joseph Beuys in Germany, Shelley works across cultures and boundaries to develop an “aesthetics of interconnectedness.” She is the founder of the Social Sculpture Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University, and the University of the Trees Lab for New Knowledge and an Eco-Social Future. The UOT Lab sits within the liberatory stream of ‘free university’ and ‘free school’ initiatives across the world. Shelley is currently focusing on aesthetic education for ecological citizenship through her project, the University of the Trees, and other ongoing projects. She is also working to scale up attitudinal change and capacity building practices like Earth Forum, and to explore the ways in which such practices contribute to the anti-capitalist struggle and to strengthening agency for change.
Redefining the aesthetic as “enlivening being,” Shelley says that her projects have “as much to do with consciousness work, soul-making and personal transformative work as they are to do with social process and natural environmental concerns.”