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The Wild Creator | Interview with renowned artist Clea van der Grijn

The Wild Creator | Interview with renowned artist Clea van der Grijn

Anyone that’s ever been to a show of Clea van der Grijn will know what I mean when I say her work ‘goes deep’. The internationally award winning film-maker and visual artist creates work which are deeply rooted in ‘unraveling the complexities associated around the culture of death and reconstructed memory’ and are both stunningly beautiful as well as unsettling, asking us to dive deep into psyche and emotion. Here we talk to the artist about her ties to this part of the world, her incredible work which was recently purchased by IMMA (the Irish Museum of Modern Art ) as part of its permanent collection and her creative process.

Q. What brought you to Sligo?

There was no big plan. I had just sold my monastery in Roscommon and it was a toss between returning to Dublin or heading further west.

Q.Favourite urban aspect of Sligo?

Sligo isn’t exactly known for its architectural beauty or urban planning. I am finding it difficult to answer this question. However I have a fondness for the massive old Saehan factory on the grounds of Hazelwood demesne.

Q.Favourite wild aspect of Sligo?

Magnificent wild Sligo. So many favourite places. Looking out of my window across the bay and seeing Knock na Rea is hard to beat.

Q. Favourite cultural aspect of Sligo?

Sligo is steeped with culture. There are a multitude of creatives practicing all over Sligo. It has to be the people, the artists that bring the cultural energy to Sligo.

Q. In what way does the wild nature of this part of the world manifest itself in your art? 

My film JUMP was filmed in the lakes and forests of Sligo. FLUX, my most recent film was filmed in Rosses point.  My studio is surrounded by nature and beautiful trees which I watch with the changing seasons.

Q. How does your lifestyle here compare to where you came from? For instance: Are you busier? More relaxed? How is your work/life balance? 

In Dublin I was social. Going to openings, bars and restaurants. Here I live a quieter simple life.  I find it difficult to stay still for too long, always thinking of the next project. I  spend more time in the studio then I did when in Dublin. 

Q. You have been very prolific over the last two decades, with a solo show nearly every year since the mid-nineties. Do you need to take time to meditate; think; explore; before starting a new project? 

I should take time to breath between projects but I am always fearful that there will be no more ideas, no more projects. Making art is my heart beat. Painting is a daily solo persuit, whereas with film I collaborate.

Q.Could you create, or have you created art, in a city; surrounded by concrete and steel? Or is yours a discipline strictly bound by nature?

For years my studio was in Temple Bar and I. loved living in the city. My home is steel and concrete so I definitely subscribe to the industrial aesthetic. I can work anywhere.

Clea Van Der Grijn, artist, in her favourite room in Rosses Point, Sligo. Kitchen.
Photo: Tony Gavin 12/10/2021

Q. Do you believe that all life – and its translation into art, is an entirely oneiric experience?

Not at all. But my subconscious creative self seems to think differently! So much of my work is based on memory real or otherwise. Dreamscapes and oneiric lands.

Q. If you could be a colour; what would it be?

I don’t really like colour. I am drawn to natural rough textures and surfaces. So, maybe the colour of raw linen canvas.? My newest work is all bright pinks and blues. Neons and reds. This is definitely a first for me.

About Clea

Clea is an internationally award winning film-maker and visual artist. Her work was recently purchased by IMMA (the Irish Museum of Modern Art ) as part of its permanent collection. Cléa is represented by the Solomon Gallery in Dublin.

See Clea’s Work

Clea is screening her 3 films in the Mermaid cinema Bray 9th March and will have a solo show in the Courthouse Co Clare 22 April where her 3 films will be screened with new works.

All images courtesy of Clea van der Grijn

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