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Shona Lyon
Shona Lyon
Shona Lyon
Shona Lyon: Advice to my 22 year old self


We found Shona Lyon because of her generosity.  She is donating a portion of her sales to the Orangutan Foundation International, For the Love of Wildlife, SPCA NZ and World Vision. We approached her with a special mission - to look inside and write a letter of advice to her 22 year old self. This week we got a request from someone helping school leavers wanting to know if The Big Idea would share some of the articles. How brilliant to know that our writers are paying it forward and inspiring young people to back themselves in their creative futures.  


Dear Shona,

When you are 44, a friend will invite you to a two-week university course in France. It will change your life forever. You will leave behind your career as a top corporate marketer with your own business, which may make you feel wealthy and respected but puts you under constant pressure.

By then, your son will be eight. He will bring you more joy that you could have imagined, but his existence will trigger a conflict between parenthood and your business world. You will be reluctant to take a fortnight away from him, but something about France will beckon.

You must

Here’s something to look forward to, young Shona: in Chartres Cathedral, you’ll turn and look at the sculptures clustered around you, and be hit with a feeling so strong it almost has a physical form. You must be a sculptor.

You’ll wonder if you’re going crazy – can you even become an artist at age 44? You will flash back to the awful memory of being turned down for School C Art as a teenager.  You remember vividly that teacher who said, “Your work isn’t good enough.”

Have faith

Have faith, because art will become your healer. You will sell your businesses and get to work learning to sculpt in clay, and from that bronzes, like Rodin. When you find no one in New Zealand can teach you, you will enter the private tutelage of Martine Vaugel, a Master Sculptor and two-time Rodin award winner who lives in the Loire Valley.

Back and forth you will go from New Zealand to Italy and France, learning and basking in the work of the masters. Ah, but you won’t be able to stay away from business, though! – people will ask where you get your tools and sculpture materials, so you’ll set up Sculpture & Moulding Supplies Limited and begin teaching workshops. This time around, you’ll be smart, and once the business starts taking up your sculpture time, you’ll hand over the reins and get back to your passion.

Engage hearts

You will find that your art engages people’s hearts first. You will draw on myths, the stories of the past, to reflect the light and the dark in all of us. Your art helps and heals: you will have friends who fight cancer, and your art will show that cracks and scars are merely the openings to true beauty. You will give proceeds of your art to people who fight for threatened species. You will be reminded every day that art is life.

Love, Shona

Shona Lyon’s latest exhibition, Mythos, runs until 29 June
TIMES: Tues – Fri (2pm – 6pm) Sat & Sun (10am – 4pm)
LOCATION: 10/16 Taylors Road, St Lukes, Auckland

OR by appointment -


Written by

The Big Idea Editor

22 Jun 2018

The Big Idea Editor