›› Jillian Player

Deirdre Kelly is a long-time resident, ­artist, and social activist in Fernwood. She was one of the original members of the ­Mitraniketan Housing Co-op; eventually, she and her family settled into their current home on Pembroke Street.

Among her many social interests, ­Deirdre has been a longstanding ­member of the Fernwood-based Central ­America ­Support Committee. Recently, she ­coordinated an art show at the Community Arts ­Council, exhibiting solidarity posters, with the proceeds going to help a cause in Central America.

She has a small studio in her backyard, overlooking a pond and garden. From that studio, Deirdre’s paintings flow out and into her home, filling the walls with ­beautiful colours and images.

Deirdre’s ­history in art-making goes back over twenty years, starting in the form of silent retreats during which she would only draw. Her first foray into ­structured art education was through extension classes in photography at the Victoria College of Art. That led to a diploma in fine arts. ­Deirdre’s paintings are complex and dreamlike. She tackles big issues but keeps her interpretations buoyant, with images of children playing and women dancing in whimsical settings. The colours are vivid and compelling, and very reminiscent of Chagall.

Recently, Deidre journeyed to Japan, where she felt safe to be alone at night to explore cities by herself, which led to a new freedom of artistic expression. This ­inspiration led her to a workshop focusing on how to create a business plan. What she came away with was a new ­direction and intention—she realized that her ­purpose was to make art, travel internationally, and help others. This summer she helped ­produce a photography exhibit for visiting Japanese artist Toshiyasu Sajita.

Inspiration is always present at the heart of Deirdre’s life, whether in art, activism, or community engagement. Deirdre’s work can be seen at the Gage Gallery. She is a member of the Community Arts ­Council of Greater ­Victoria (CAC) and a longstanding ­participant of the Fernwood Art Stroll. Deirdre’s artwork can be found on ­Facebook at Deirdre Kelly Fine Arts or she can be contacted at deirdrekelly@shaw.ca to arrange a ­studio visit.


About the author:

Jillian Player is an artist, florist, and an occasional arts writer living in Fernwood. Please visit her website at jillianplayer.com.