Paul Costelloe and sons are cut from the same artistic cloth
The Irish designer and three of his adult sons examine the ties that bind in a new art exhibition that opens in Dublin this week
Paul Costelloe with Nicholas, left, and William, two of his three sons whose paintings are about to go on show in an upcoming art exhibition in Dublin. Photograph: Andrew Wiard
From left, Robert, Jessica, Paul, William, Anne (Paul’s wife), Paul-Emmet, Gavin and Nicholas Costelloe
Chelsea Bridge by Paul-Emmet Costelloe
Paul Costelloe is a very busy man. He’s hard to catch, constantly travelling between Asia and London, where he is based. But he is about to return home for a very personal reason: an art exhibition featuring his work and that of three of his six adult sons, Family Ties. It promises to be a relatively laid-back, personal affair.
This is in contrast to his normal working life. When I manage to pin the fashion designer down, he has had to duck out between meetings, hiding out on a flight of stairs. His only daughter, Jessica, is somewhere in the periphery.
He was in the throes of London Fashion Week preparations. “I’m on the first day. I’m on later in the afternoon. Looking forward to it, being back again – well, looking forward to it I don’t know. But it’s something that relevant in retaining the Costelloe dream, I suppose, and the fashion show is a whole part of it.”
His collection promises to be a continuation of his sleek, appealing work. “It’s very young, it’s youthful, it’s very fresh. [The collection is] called Angels in the Field, so it’s very sweet, charming and pretty, with a slight Asian influence. Beautiful fabric and interesting shapes, but very volume-based. Each dress probably has about three to four metres of fabric, at least three anyway. It’s quite sculptured, and nice, simple, feminine. Nothing aggressive at all – on the contrary. So, yeah, femininity and volume.”
Mark of approval
Paul, who has shown at the Sol Art Gallery on Dawson Street in Dublin before, explains the process.
“Martin [Davis], who owns the gallery, was in London and dropped into our humble abode. I caught him and I said, ‘Just have a look at their [his sons’] work. I thought that it would be quite fun to show with my sons. He was very excited. He gave the mark of approval and he made the selection of their works and of mine. Luckily I wasn’t there, so I didn’t see what he had thrown out,” he laughs.
“So, yeah, all of a sudden it’s coinciding with Culture Night in Dublin, and it’s on a Friday, which is my favourite day of the week – which means we can enjoy the evening, have a few drinks and maybe even sell a painting.”
Paul and his sons – Paul-Emmet, Nicholas and William, all have wildly differing styles.
“It’s incredible,” says Paul. “It’d be very interesting to come and see them. As a father, one never knows what other people think of their children or what creativity they have.
“William, he’s a very dab hand at painting. It’s quite commercial, which is quite interesting for someone his age. His choices of colour are quite subtle and very pleasant to the eye.”
“Nicholas is more the Francis Bacon route, He’s going through this spiritual period that a 20-year-old might go through living in London. Being in a Catholic family, who knows what influence that has when you’re a very small minority? His work is very evocative of the French cathedral of St Sulpice or St Paul’s in London.
“And then Paul-Emmet is very face-to-face. He works with primary colours, works with a palette knife and will spend quite a long time working over his paintings, listening to Man United being beaten by somebody. He’s a big football man. It’s art and sport.”
As the opening night on Friday is also Culture Night, Paul will be dashing off a few designs in the gallery: “Just black on white copy that I can trace off easily.”
There may be a few fashion sketches “in a folder, very available, very affordable”, but for the most part, his sketches will be in the form of a travelogue, from Beijing to Hong Kong harbour to Portugal and back to Ireland. His work is very immediate.
“But its just like a camera to me. It’s a mood, a sense of the environment, just trying to catch it quickly. If anything takes longer than half an hour, I get bored, so it’s just a flash. I’m lazy. I use watercolours but I don’t think I even use them correctly. All the rules are broken, but anyway, it’s just a reflection.”
As for his sons’ work, he stays quiet except to compliment them. “I always say, the less you say about your children the better, but when it comes to art, I think it’s something different.”
Family Ties will run at the Sol Art Gallery, Dawson Street, Dublin, September 19-28