Artist to the stars

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PEOPLE -

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!

She con­nected with Es­tee Leong through Face­book; one thing led to an­other which even­tu­ally re­sulted in New­man paint­ing on Leong’s baby bump.

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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