Departing artist leaves mark on city with painting of Depot

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 23, 2009

Brookhaven is losing what may be its only royal subject.

The charmingly British Christine Fore, a source of strength inthe local arts community since arriving in the city five years ago,is moving to Tennessee to be near her family. She will departBrookhaven just before Thanksgiving after what she said feels likean incredibly short stay.

“It’s breaking my heart,” Fore said. “Our family are up there,and it’s time to move closer to family.”

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Fore leaves behind a gift of art be displayed in the LincolnCounty Public Library, a gift presented through the library’s bookdiscussion group. That group was the first local club to get itshands on Fore, and the one responsible for bringing her into theart scene that she impacted so much.

Fore’s first interaction with artsy locals occurred at her homeon Hog Chain Drive.

She had only been in town a few days when book club member JosieSummers wandered into Fore’s yard to pinch – King’s English forsteal – apples from the apple tree. Fore, a lover of books, joinedthe discussion group and shortly began meeting a cross section ofBrookhaven’s artists.

Soon, she was drafted into all the important bodies. She becamea member of the Brookhaven Trust’s Arts Council and leaves forTennessee as chairwoman of the Fine Arts Committee. Fore has seen arapid ascension in local arts, and has helped remake the localmission.

“I wanted to focus more on local artists and expand what thefine arts committee was intending to do,” she said.

Fore said the focus of the local arts community upon herinduction into it was on outside expertise.

But with so many experienced and developing artists of all typesin Brookhaven, she began beating the drum to rally those artiststogether and place the focus on them. She began bringingprofessional artists out of Jackson to the city for workshops togrow and develop the talent found locally.

“I just saw it from an artist’s point of view,” Fore said. “Artcan’t exist in a vacuum. It always has to be in interplay, with anexchange of ideas.”

Perhaps Fore’s most outstanding realization of her policy waslast May’s first ever Lincoln County Art Competition, in which 78local artists submitted 178 pieces of art for display and judgingby Tougaloo College art professor Bruce O’Hara. Fore had hoped togather 100 pieces of art, but the event began over-successful whenthe lines of artists stretched out the door during a four-hourentry process.

Fore immediately booked the library for a second art competitionin 2010.

“I’m leaving a flourishing art community,” she said. “They’re acohesive unit, and the best friends I could ever hope for.”

Fore has already made plans to visit Brookhaven early next year,as well as plans to have her fellow artists from the Art Barn cometo the mountains of Tennessee for a session.

She is also leaving behind a pastel work of the Brookhaven Depotto be displayed in the library. Library director Henry Ledet calledthe work a “treasure for the whole community.”

Book group member Marilyn Driskell said Brookhaven is losing avaluable community leader in Fore.

“She’s just a very interesting, viable member of the community,and it’s just really hard to think we’re losing her,” she said.