Home town fu­els a burn­ing ob­ses­sion

Bray People - - In Profile - Paula BURNS

LO­CAL ARTIST Pat Burns ( nee Whe­lan) has of­ten been told that she has a sin­cere and se­ri­ous ob­ses­sion with her home town of Bray.

Pat was born in Bray in 1957 hav­ing an idyl­lic child­hood in the sea­side town.

At the age of 10 her par­ents de­cided to move their fam­ily across the At­lantic Ocean to Canada to be­gin a new life there.

At 10-years-old Pat had made a life of her own in Bray, as chil­dren do, and wasn’t too keen on the move.

Since Bray had held such a close place in her heart she never for­got the town she knew and loved so well.

‘I sup­pose you could say that I had an idyl­lic child­hood. I al­ways re­mem­ber the free­dom that we had as kids and when I moved to Canada I missed this very much,’ re­mem­bers Pat.

Pat has strong mem­o­ries of leav­ing her house in Grosvenor Vil­las early in the morn­ing with her younger brother Kevin and sis­ter Ge­orgina.

‘We would leave the house and head down to the sea where we would spend hours play­ing and find­ing lit­tle ad­ven­tures,’ says Pat.

Nay­lor’s Cove was one of Pat’s favourite haunts as a child and still re­mains a place where she of­ten finds refuge from the bus­tle of the town.

An­other favourite is Bray Head and as a keen hill walker Pat can of­ten be found roam­ing the head or the Wick­low Moun­tains.

In Canada life was very dif­fer­ent then it was in Ire­land in the 1960s but Pat’s par­ents en­sured that Ire­land and Bray re­mained a con­stant fix­ture.

In Canada the Whe­lan fam­ily moved to an area that was pre­dom­i­nately Ir­ish and many of their friends had also come from the Emer­ald Isle.

Pat went to an Ir­ish high school and learned Ir­ish danc­ing and went to many ceili through­out her teenage years.

At 19, Pat made her first trip back to Bray.

‘I re­mem­ber sit­ting on the rocks near Nay­lor’s Cove and looking out to the sea. It was then that I de­cided I would come back and live here some­day,’ says Pat.

Back in Canada Pat met a won­der­ful Ir­ish man by the name of Sandy Whe­lan from White­hall in Dublin one night in an Ir­ish bar; ‘I saw him and said right I’m go­ing to have him!’

Sandy and Pat mar­ried and had two daugh­ters Ce­cilia and Ge­orgina.

Fi­nally, ten years ago when Ce­cilia was 21-years-old and Ge­orgina was 14-years-old, Sandy and Pat were in a po­si­tion to move back to Bray.

‘My fa­ther had just passed away and my mother was on her own in Bray so I felt that fam­ily needed to be around her.

‘She was liv­ing in my grand­par­ent’s house on Florence Road which Sandy and I had bought, so we all moved in to­gether,’ ex­plains Pat.

It was only now that Pat de­cided to take up paint­ing.

She had never been en­cour­aged to be artis­tic be­fore al­though three of her sib­lings are artists.

But Pat had a yearn­ing and be­gan an in­te­rior de­sign course that led her to a port­fo­lio course that opened the doors to a four year de­gree in Fine Art in Dun Laoghaire.

‘I spent four ex­cit­ing years learn­ing about art and know­ing what it meant,’ says Pat, ‘Be­ing an artist is a vo­ca­tion and con­sumes ev­ery wak­ing mo­ment. As an artist you are al­ways think­ing of the next thing.’

Pat’s first solo ex­hi­bi­tion at the Sig­nal Arts Cen­tre in Oc­to­ber 2006 was called Ob­ses­sion and was a de­vel­op­ment of prints and paint­ings of her favourite place, Bray.

‘An artis­tic project is al­ways an in­ter­est­ing jour­ney for me and I never know ex­actly where I will end up but it will al­ways be some­where in Bray. Bray is my only in­spi­ra­tion,’ com­ments Pat.

Pat’s forth­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion Topophilia mean­ing Love of Place con­veys her ob­ses­sion with Bray.

Here she has used The Bray Peo­ple as a ma­te­rial re­source moulded and mak­ing pa­per cubes called Stri­a­tions from old is­sues.

‘I con­sider that the Bray Peo­ple is an em­bod­i­ment of the life of Bray, past, present and fu­ture,’ ex­plains Pat.

For Pat be­ing back­ing Bray is a child­hood dream made re­al­ity.

‘It is a won­der­ful and ful­fill­ing dream to come back and live here. Bray is full to the brim of happy mem­o­ries for me and that is why it is so close to my heart,’ says Pat.

Pat Burns with one of the new ex­hi­bi­tion.

that she used to cre­ate her

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