Mural artist Annie Newman has a free spirit but you know she’s got a feisty side because she’s a warrior who has won the battle against the big C.
“I discovered I had breast cancer in my early 40s which spread to my ovaries,” says Newman, 45. “As a woman, it affects how you think and makes you feel hopeless.”
She speaks in a soft and modulated tone, with an accent that wavers between British and Malaysian, the result of living in the former and born and raised in the latter. Today she’s completely cured and counts meditation and long walks with her beloved dog as her post-cancer recovery.
“You have to have a little bit of luck in life,” muses Newman. “I had a call one day out of the blue and a lady on the phone said her daughter wanted to have a mural done in her home.
“I asked the lovely lady on the phone for her daughter’s name and she said Victoria Beckham. I laughed and thought it was a friend playing a trick on me and nearly put the phone down!”
Luckily, Newman didn’t hang up because it was a genuine call. She ended up decorating Brooklyn and Romeo’s bedrooms in the Beckhams’ palatial mansion in Buckinghamshire as well as their home in France.
Apart from the Beckhams, Newman has had other high-profile and celebrity clients; among them, she worked on the Jimmy Choo Couture boutique in London.
Newman was born in Miri, Sarawak and left for Britain at the age of 11 to study in a convent in Devon. She later studied law but never opened another law book after graduation. That’s because she dived into mural art after a short stint as personal assistant to a Middle Eastern princess who was décor-challenged.
“She had trouble matching the blinds in her house to the wall paper and I volunteered to help out,” explains Newman. She traced some magnolia blossom motifs onto the blinds and painted them with fabric paint and voilà!
On what inspires her as an artist, Newman answers: “I think your soul has to resonate with your client’s soul. Everyone has a different concept of art – some artists are quite dark but I like light and happiness.”
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