Clíodhna Doherty is recognised primarily for her alluring and playful nude work, but our cover artist’s beginnings were no easy feat. With no savings and having been in her new job for only five months, she took two years to believe in her work enough to initiate her career… “Before I finally got the courage to share my work, I had always been really hesitant that maybe there wasn’t a market for my art. If it’s something your passionate about you just need to take that leap of faith and work on mindset” she said in an interview with the Newry Democrat.
Funnily enough, Clíodhna’s best selling piece happens to be a little less sensual than her usual aesthetic (then again, I suppose that’s up to interpretation). ‘HOME’, the vibrant and joyful piece Clíodhna has kindly allowed us to feature as our April cover, has been sold across the globe. Undoubtedly hanging on apartment walls from New York to Tokyo, the piece’s success is exemplary of the far-reaching roots of, as well as of the pride within, the Irish migrant population.
What’s more, is that the young artist maintains a deep philosophy within her work; “painting to empower women” being at the heart of each creation. During lockdown in her hometown of Flagstaff in Newry, Clíodhna began sketching nude bodies and forms. In doing so, she came to the realisation that by “just focusing on the lines and the shapes, for a few hours, nudity loses its shameful connotations.” The trouble was, when you Google naked pictures of the human body, you’re going to run into something pornographic – Clíodhna wanted to depict a woman’s body as powerful and beautiful, without associations with provocations or sex. So, to tackle this issue, she posted an Instagram enlisting help from her following – in response to which she received over 120 nude submissions varying from scarred torsos to pregnant ones, all equally ethereal, and her success only grew.
Along came 2020, and Clíodhna’s relationship with the award winning and sustainable Irish designer Aoife McNamara ensued. The label had launched a postcard competition for which young artists would submit their work and the winning candidate would secure collaborations with the skyrocketing independent brand. Clíodhna won said challenge, of course, and the resulting brand / artist relationship continues to this day. Recently, the pair have launched a pop-up shop in Kildare Village where you can purchase original pieces of collaborative art alongside rails of Aoife McNamara’s whimsical clothing. A match made in heaven, as we see it.
Really, the reason we are most delighted to have the honour of featuring Clíodhna on our cover is because she shares the same belief in and hope for a sustainable world, as we do at UTOPIA. It lies at the centre of her business and within everything she does, consistently attempting to make her work as environmentally impactless and eco-friendly as possible. How does she do it? Well, all of her canvases are either organic cotton or linen and all of her products – from prints to apparel – are made in order to divert waste and reduce landfill.
Oh, and if you head to Clíodhna’s Instagram right now (@cliodhna_bycliodhna) you may be in with a chance of snagging your very own bespoke commissioned piece in celebration of her accounts most recent 6k milestone… best be hasty.