A DISCO-dancing 84-year-old artist says she is never short of inspiration for her work, which is currently on display at the Beecroft Gallery.

Sheila Appleton uses the world around her as the topics for her paintings, bringing to life mundane scenes most of us ignore as we go about our busy lives.

All is grist to Sheila’s social art mill, including people waiting in a doctor’s surgery for a flu jab, which is part of her current exhibition in the Victoria Avenue gallery.

Sheila of North Road, Leigh was inspired to take up disco dancing, which she still enjoys, by one of the many men in her life, most far younger than she.

She said: “I got married the first time when I was 22. I didn’t like being married but you had to in those days.

“I fell in love with someone else and left my husband. We lived in a caravan. It was ghastly. I was doing life modelling but he used to give me love bites where they would show because he didn’t want me to do modelling.

“My second marriage failed and I ended up living in an old bank house in Leigh. I shared an art studio in Leigh Hill with two other artists. That’s when I fist started disco dancing. I started going out with someone much younger than me and we went on holiday and did a lot of dancing.”

One of Sheila’s paintings, a 4ft 6in by 3ft 4in based on a tropicana night disco.

She added: “I’ve been dancing since my late thirties. I’d go to Tots grab-a-granny night, or fondle a fossel night as it was known. We had a reunion and I did a painting of that.

“I like the rhythm. I’ve always been with much younger men. I could hardly date an 84-year-old could I?

“But disco dancing makes me fell alive. I dance for the sheer joy of still being alive. I wear a jumpsuit and a hat but you get young women on hen nights who say they think I’m great then ask how old I am. One night one woman asked and I told her 101 and to my horror she believed me!”

Along the way Sheila who trained locally as an artist and who supplemented her income as a window dresser in local stores, dated her picture framer and a cockle boat skipper.

She hopes to donate paintings of the latter to a planned maritime museum in Leigh. Her scenes of local landmarks have been bought by Southend Council, including a large scene of the redevelopment of the town in 1962.

It’s clear that love and dance have inspired Sheila throughout her life but modern life doesn’t impress her. She said: “I think people don’t think very much about the loneliness of other people. Values have changed over the years. It’s all about material things now.

“I like to comment on life, particularly women’s lives. I’ve done a painting of three women which I called waiting for romance.”

Sheila’s current partner, Ian Smith, a fellow artist, also has work on display at the gallery.

The exhibition runs until January.

To see more of her work visit www.sheila-appleton.co.uk