Hello everyone. We have quite a treat for you today.
The simply wonderful Fleur Jackson is our guest today. Artist, interior designer, restaurant owner … an all round incredibly talented, and beautiful, lady.
Fleur Jackson is an innovative interior designer and restauranteur whose approach relies heavily on her fine art background. A graduate of Central St Martins, she has been featured on RTE’s Showhouse Programme and has over 5 years experience working for private clients both North and South of the border. She has been featured in numerous national and regional newspapers and magazines and is renowned for her instinctive and eclectic approach to design.
Embracing the abstract quality of conceptual art, she places her client at the heart of the work, connecting them to their surroundings so they claim emotional ownership of their space. The result is authentic and rich in depth, which truly reflects the client’s personality.
Fleur’s experience includes concept design, personal shopping, sourcing furniture, fabric and colour consultations, furniture design and refurbishment, project management and restoration. She also champions exceptional local craftspeople to her clients.
(above photo taken by David McCauley)
Today I am at home, as Monday is my only day off. I have just had my coffee (very important) and I am catching up on business before I head to the park to walk my beloved dog, Dolly. Border terrier extraordinair!
How would you describe the journey that has brought you to this place? And was this the destination you had in mind?
I am a very instinctive person and have learnt over the years to listen to them. My journey is one of love. The restaurant I created with my partner Kyron, TEATRO, came from a place of love. A love letter to Kyron and his talent. (It’s a cabaret restaurant and Kyron plays and sings in the restaurant as well as coming up with the menu concept)
Kyron and I always talked about opening a restaurant. Kyron had been in the business before but he also is a professional piano player and vocalist. He and I have a passion for food and wine. Kyron is a fabulous cook and over the years we have enjoyed travelling, eating and drinking together. We have entertained our friends with food, wine and song. We both love to create atmosphere, I design the space and buy all the lovely things, I am a massive collector of everything! Kyron then hangs the paintings, arranges the books and lights the room, and bobs your uncle!
(Teatro restaurant, Belfast)
My destination is always for happiness…as I think is everyone main goal. Happiness is still in the simplest of things for me. Spending time with loved ones, food and friends always, and travelling as much as possible. Owning a restaurant is very stressful and time-consuming, but strangely I always talked about owning a cafe or a restaurant and I used to write down interesting dishes that I enjoyed on my travels. I used to design the place and imagine what music would be playing and what the tables would look like and the atmosphere, always the atmosphere. To answer your question, was this the destination I had in mind, I never really had a focused destination, I am an artist, a designer, a potter, a painter, a waitress, a manager, a restaurant owner, but what I really would like would be living in a huge house in a city I adored, with a walled garden that had an orchard, a vegetable patch and a rose garden. I would have loads of dogs running about, and a potters shed/artist studio, and I would spend my days swanning about making jams, and doing the odd painting, while doing up my house and making it as delightful as possible so that I could invite my friends for candlelit parties, and drink champagne. All of this whilst maintaining regular trips to India and Cuba, via anywhere in Italy and visiting all the best cities in Europe and the world….with an unlimited budget. Lets just say, I’m still working on it!
Do you have a process to ensure you are in the right frame of mind to create?
I am always in the frame of mind to create when it comes to interior design, I can’t help myself. I am always dreaming up a design or coming up with a new concept, that comes naturally to me. I totally adore it. If I am preparing to paint then that is different, I have to build myself up for that and I start gathering and preparing and working through photographs . I struggle to begin and I get easily demoralized as I am highly critical of my work. I find it incredibly hard to paint in Ireland. I like to paint at my house in Spain as I have a large studio there and I have the warmth of the sun. I love to be in the heat it frees me from my inhibitions about painting. I like to paint at night in the warmth of the Spanish night, and in the peace…oh the peace. I love to be alone when I paint, hence I struggle to paint at home as there always seems to be someone or something to distract, plus the cold doesn’t help!
Pottery is something I have been doing for a few years. I drag myself out of bed after another gruelling weekend at the restaurant to a pottery class on Sunday afternoons. I am definitely not in the frame of mind to create as I get up but I know if I can just pull on some clothes and make that drive to the country, I will benefit from the meditation that is the potters wheel. I have absolutely no expectation, which is delightful, so all creations are a joy. The great thing about making pots is that if they end up a little wonky, even if you are disappointed at the time, you end up loving them all the more once they are finished. As Leonard Cohen said “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.
(Teatro restaurant, Belfast)
How do you think your background and culture influences your creations?
If it wasn’t for my background and the culture and freedom in which my Mum brought me up with I wouldn’t be who I am, or do what I do. Firstly my sister and I always painted and drew from the minute we could hold a colouring pencil. We weren’t interested in doing anything else. So I guess I was always an artist! Secondly I was brought up in a large house with a large garden and an orchard, and lived beside my maternal grandfather, Lancelot Turtle (had to mention his name as it is so great!) Granddaddy was a wonderful gardener, he grew all his own vegetables as well as strawberry’s, raspberry’s, and gooseberry’s. I spent my childhood until the age of 8 going through a gap in the hedge that separated our garden from his. Helping pick fruit for jam making and getting carrots from the veg patch for supper that night, or collecting apples from the tree for an apple pie. I caught the end of a Victorian era, a formal aesthetic. Afternoon tea was served everyday at 4pm with home-made cake, china tea cups with rose buds on them (really!) and a silver tea pot. The fire was always set, supper at 8pm… As a child this was normal for me, but I know now that it wasn’t for others the same age as me. We unfortunately left our lovely big house and moved to a horrible 1950’s red brick horror which I loathed, we all did. That traumatized me for life and I refuse to live in a house without high ceilings ever again. My love of space was born. This was the point that I became a designer! Aged 9. I remember my mother picked this awful yellow wallpaper for my bedroom with matching curtains that came to the windowsills (I only like full length curtains). I proceeded to cover the walls up with whatever posters I could get my hands on, and rearranging all the furniture. I then set my sights on the little room under the stairs and proceeded to try and decorate that. I was always trying to make the space that we live in, beautiful especially since I had lost my second love, my beautiful family home (my first love was my father who died when I was 4) I have never really got over loosing that house, my childhood and lifestyle changed so dramatically, and it made me very unhappy being in that space. Looking back, that has been the catalyst that propelled me into design, although I didn’t realise that was what I should be doing until I was about 25! I had been doing it so automatically and for so long that I hadn’t noticed it was the very thing I should be doing!
(Fleur’s Cottage 51, available to rent)
All this and the fact that my Mother is extremely well travelled and I have been brought up with fantastic stories of her travels, one trip involved an overland bus trip to India from London, to name only one of her adventures. I was always encouraged to travel and I did, I have been pretty much everywhere in Europe bar the far north (to cold and dull) and east (Russia) no interest. I have been around the rest of the world and back and forth to India many times. Mum took us to Europe every year, and dragged my sister and I to every art gallery and museum she could find. She has an unnatural amount of curiosity for everyone, everything, art, music, nature, history. So if there was an exhibition about any of these things, we went to it. She brought us to the ballet and the opera as children, the theatre too…all of this I absorbed like a sponge whether I liked it or not. And here I am…
What does beauty mean to you?
That is a loaded question! I am obsessed with beauty in many ways. Firstly I like to create beautiful spaces, and in order to do this I require many beautiful things to adorn these spaces. Beautiful things can be beautiful because of different reasons. They can be found hidden away in a dusty shop or auction room. They can be gifts. They can be sought out for a particular aesthetic and hunted down by me, and I will find them! I adore owning beautiful things, and I genuinely appreciate being surrounded by them. I also adore jewellery and enjoy wearing the pieces that I am lucky enough to possess. But that is just superficial beauty, the beauty of objects and things. So that aside, beauty to me is to catch yourself in a moment in time, with someone you love and to realise for that moment, you have everything in the world you could ever want. Beauty is to love.
If we had interviewed you when you were 11, what would you have told us you wanted to be when you grew up?
I always had the same answer to this question from a very early age. I was always surprised that others would have an answer that was say, a doctor, lawyer etc. I always answered:- “I want to be happy” working on the basic reasoning that, it wouldn’t matter so much what you did because as long as you were happy first, all would be well. I was always a very practical child.
What advice have you received that you want everyone to benefit from?
In the matters of love you must learn to love all the bad things as well as the good things. Forgive forgive forgive, and forget. Respect others.
What wonderful answers. So honest, open and inspiring.
Thank you Fleur. We are delighted that you are in our handsome and pretty family.