I knew that I would be meeting someone special when I met Grace Kelly and I wasn’t disappointed. Grace is a really engaging, bubbly, vivacious individual. She’s one of those people who light up a room when they enter it.
When I first made an appointment to meet up with her, I thought we would start by talking about her paintings which I absolutely adore but then a couple of days prior to meeting her I discovered that she is primarily an actor, and she does the art in her down time! How fabulous to be talented in two such exciting but very different areas and with 85% of actors out of work all the time, how fortunate that she is!
Acting as a career has no job or financial security, and when you are fortunate enough to get into a production, you never know whether it will be your last one. Grace has friends who went straight to the West End from college but have done nothing since. It’s a profession where you are constantly being judged and rejected and you never really get to know why.
Painting as a second job is ideal for someone like Grace because it offers such flexibility. She has the freedom to attend auditions and do the acting without feeling that she’s letting an employer down. She has total control over the number of orders she takes and if she’s in a production she can just stop taking the orders. And, she’s doing something she adores! Happy days!
It was at the age of eight watching a West End performance of Les Mis, where she was speechless with awe and wonder about what was unfolding before her eyes, that Grace knew that acting was going to be her future. After her A – levels Grace was lucky enough to get a place at Arts Ed, in London, an organisation of considerable repute which is not easy to get into. Some of the more well-known Arts Ed alumni include Julie Andrews, Tuppence Middleton, Martin Clunes, Bonnie Langford, Danny Mac and Finn Jones. Find out more about Arts Ed here:
Grace has performed lead roles in the West End, Germany, Toronto and more, all of which she spoke about with great passion. Coming straight out of drama school, she performed in “Titanic, The Musical” which was a brand new story, unconnected to Rose and Jack, focusing instead on the final hours of a mix of real life characters, all unaware of the fate awaiting them. The Third Class, steerage passengers share their dreams and hopes of a better life in America, the newly enfranchised Second Class imagine themselves achieving the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and the millionaire barons of the First Class dream of their achievements and high status lasting forever. Although people singing as they drown sounds horrendous, Grace described the music and lyrics as very beautiful and she loved her role as Kate Murphy, a young Northern Irish girl who dreamt of life as a governess in a better place.
Other productions that Grace particularly enjoyed was her time with the UK tour of SPAMALOT where she was ensemble and also the understudy to the Lady of the Lake. She played the role for a week in Dublin at the Bord Gais Energy theatre which seats over 2000 people; playing Jemima Puddleduck/Mrs Tiggywinkle in ‘Where is Peter Rabbit?’ and singing live on Radio 2’s ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ hosted by Michael Ball.
I was curious to know what her dream role would be and she mentioned Miss Honey in Matilda. The clever, book loving Matilda describes Miss Honey as
‘………….a mild and quiet person who never raised her voice and was seldom seen to smile, but there is no doubt she possessed that rare gift for being adored by every small child under her care.”
Grace would also be very interested in playing Sophie from Mamma Mia – the bubbly, kind, free-spirited twenty something who has always wanted to meet the mysteriously absent father that her mother refuses to talk about.
I could easily imagine Grace in both of these roles and hope that one day she gets to play them. I would happily have spent the rest of the day talking to her about the acting but neither of us had the time and I am so keen to share what drew Grace to my attention in the first place – her considerable art skills,
Whilst pondering what she could do between acting jobs and after a lot of waitressing, Grace remembered the doodles of fairy tale or story book characters that she used to create when she was younger. With the encouragement from family and friends she set up Pencil and Grace in 2016 hoping to sell a few personalised portraits of family, friends, pets and places to help support her acting. Pencil and Grace has now grown more than she had hoped, so much so that she now feels that maybe one day the painting could take over!
Quality is important to Grace and she uses a professional grade watercolour paper of the highest quality and the fabulous, vibrant watercolours of Winsor and Newton. Armed with these beautiful materials Grace creates original, personal pieces of art from family photos and memories. It’s a process that Grace enjoys from start to finish, she loves discussing her commissions and making sure she has fully understood what is required. She loves that her art brings people together, in the sense that she has on many occasions been asked to create a piece which may include the image of someone who has passed away or who lives abroad, and she loves people’s reaction when they get to see their commission for the first time.
I wondered what had influenced Grace’s style of art and she immediately mentioned the work of Nick Sharett who did all the wonderful illustrations for Jaqueline Wilson’s children’s books. Perhaps that’s why I like Grace’s work so much because although I would describe it as contemporary art, it evokes all the happy memories of childhood reading and reading to Matthew my son. Focusing on the images added so much to the stories and lent itself to endless musings on the characters and what adventures were yet to befall them.
The acting career that Grace has chosen is not an easy one – the competition is fierce, the auditions are physically and psychologically demanding and life is basically a roller coaster of highs and lows! Having a passion that is so different, albeit creative and totally absorbing, offers Grace a chance to do something she loves whilst enjoying some downtime. Sitting at her desk, looking out of the window of her top floor flat, creating her beautiful art, glancing up occasionally to look at the Pier is a far cry from the hurly – burly of auditions.
Grace’s plans for the future include a range of lovely products such as gift paper, mugs, cards and hopefully more of these lovely collections like the ‘Inspirational Ladies’ who are featured on the banner at the top of this post. However Pencil and Grace develops, it’s sure to be exciting just like it’s creator.
It was such a pleasure getting to know Grace, she hasn’t been in Clevedon very long but loves it, she particularly mentioned the support that she has had since moving here. FACES of Clevedon are happy to be a part of that support and we will keep you in touch with her work through our Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram.
Thank you for the commission you recently did for me Grace, I’ll be in touch again at Christmas. All the best with both of your passions.
Have a look at Grace’s Etsy Shop here: