An artist’s re­flec­tion on a chang­ing land­scape

Bray People - - In Profile - Paula BURNS

GREY­STONES artist Fe­lic­ity Clear re­calls grow­ing up in a quiet vil­lage be­side the sea.

‘I moved to Grey­stones when I was 12 from Stil­lor­gan and thought that I was mov­ing to the coun­try­side, an idea that I kind of liked,’ re­mem­bered Fe­lic­ity.

The Clear fam­ily moved to Grey­stones in 1972 when Fe­lic­ity’s mother He­len opened The Bray Book Shop on the Quinns­bor­ough Road.

‘I loved that my mum owned a book shop. It was a very leisurely place in the early years with kind of a Bo­hemian feel where peo­ple browsed, read­ing books,’ ex­plained Fe­lic­ity.

When the young artist moved to Grey­stones she at­tended St. David’s School, a school where art wasn’t a very big sub­ject.

De­spite this her teach­ers and fel­low class­mates could see po­ten­tial and en­cour­aged Fe­lic­ity with her art.

Maybe this wasn’t enough for the teenager as art fell to the way­side for a while with Fe­lic­ity go­ing on to study sci­ence in Trin­ity.

Af­ter her de­gree and a few years out of col­lege the artist re­alised that the burn­ing want to cre­ate and draw was just too much to ig­nore and so she em­barked on an­other col­lege de­gree this time in NCAD.

In 1991 Fe­lic­ity grad­u­ated and never looked back.

Over the years she has ex­hib­ited through­out the coun­try in­clud­ing in the Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art and the Craw­ford Gallery in Cork, and Fe­lic­ity also has a reg­u­lar slot at the Ru­bi­con Gallery in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

‘The Ru­bi­con is a great space and I re­ally en­joy ex­hibit­ing there but this year I have had the fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity of bring­ing my work to the Mer­maid The­atre in Bray,’ said Fe­lic­ity.

With the larger space of the Mer­maid Fe­lic­ity was en­ticed to mak­ing her work big­ger which is some­thing that she re­ally en­joyed.

The ex­hi­bi­tion called Di­a­mond Val­ley can be de­scribed as a re­flec­tion on how North Wick­low, the place in which she spent her teenage years has changed in the mod­ern Ire­land.

‘I am in­spired by how we ne­go­ti­ate our­selves in the world and so I have based this ex­hi­bi­tion on lo­ca­tions around Bray and Grey­stones. The ti­tle, Di­a­mond Val­ley, de­rives from the apart­ments at the Dar­gle Val­ley. This is a beau­ti­ful part of Bray and while the mod­ern apart­ments have been nes­tled into the back­drop they are still quite a strange sight in those sur­round­ings,’ ex­plained Fe­lic­ity.

The gated world of apart­ment blocks and pri­vate es­tates scat­tered around Bray and Grey­stones have deeply in­trigued the artist who feels that in a strange way they are mini par­adises that are made from plans and pro­jec­tions but some­how they fall short of the utopia they are so greatly try­ing to achieve.

Th­ese apart­ment blocks and new es­tates are a far cry from the world that Fe­lic­ity grew up in only a few short years ago.

‘Where Charles­land is now was a wooded area that we would ex­plore and walk through to get to the beach. I loved liv­ing be­side the sea and can re­mem­ber many cold win­ters walk­ing the beach,’ re­called Fe­lic­ity.

De­spite her mem­o­ries of a quiet, peace­ful vil­lage, Fe­lic­ity be­lieves that her 17-year-old­self would have loved liv­ing in the Grey­stones of to­day.

‘Without all th­ese new es­tates the vil­lage wouldn’t have the fan­tas­tic fa­cil­i­ties that it does now. I would have loved the the­atre and hav­ing the pool and gym. With the new growth the vil­lage still hasn’t lost its gen­tile feel­ing,’ says Fe­lic­ity.

With the next ex­hi­bi­tion in mind Fe­lic­ity has re­turned to her stu­dio in Tem­ple Bar.

A place where she has built the dis­ci­pline to go to each morn­ing be­fore she heads off to NCAD in the af­ter­noons to teach.

‘It is a great bal­ance to be alone in the stu­dio in the morn­ing and then with the stu­dents in the af­ter­noon. Teach­ing keeps me up to date which is some­thing I need and be­ing in the stu­dio can be lonely and iso­lat­ing so hav­ing cof­fee and chat­ting with the stu­dents is a great down­time to have,’ ex­plained Fe­lic­ity.

The Di­a­mond Val­ley ex­hi­bi­tion is not to be missed and is still run­ning at the Mer­maid The­atre un­til Novem­ber 1.

Artist Fe­lic­ity Clear at her ex­hi­bi­tion ‘Di­a­mond Val­ley’ in the Mer­maid The­atre.

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