An artist’s reflection on a changing landscape
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.