Belfast Telegraph

Co Down artist Davidson's Bill Clinton portrait unveiled in New York

'William Jefferson Clinton' by Colin Davidson
'William Jefferson Clinton' by Colin Davidson

A painting of former US President Bill Clinton by renowned Co Down artist Colin Davidson has been unveiled in New York.

The painting was created to acknowledge 42nd President of the United States' "vital role in the peace process".

It comes more than 25 years after he made the landmark decision to grant the then Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams a US visa.

In 1995 Mr Clinton became the first serving US President to visit Northern Ireland, delivering a speech outside Belfast City Hall expressing his hopes for the fledgling peace process.

Colin Davidson said that when he travelled to New York last year and the former President sat for the portrait, he sensed Mr Clinton had "real empathy and compassion" for the people of Ireland.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony at the New York office of the Clinton Foundation, Mr Clinton (72) said the painting captures part of himself that he tried to keep hidden.

"This actually captures a part of my personality I often try to keep hidden, because I try always to be upbeat. I always try to be positive, I always try to think that the best is around the corner," he said.

Bill Clinton and Colin Davidson at the unveiling ceremony in New York
Bill Clinton and Colin Davidson at the unveiling ceremony in New York

"I am very grateful because the painting shows me in a way I would not be prepared to show myself, in my 'I don't know, but I sure hope so' mood. I don't know but I will be there until, in my immortal phrase, until the last dog dies, trying to make it so.

"We owe it to generations to come to make this the greatest age of discovery and empowerment and inclusion in human history, but to do it we have to meet some stern opposition."

To coincide with the unveiling of the portrait, three US universities announced the creation of Clinton Scholarships in Peace Studies, acknowledging his role in the peace process, each valued €120,000.

Mr Clinton also spoke of his concerns over Brexit and stated the referendum was carried out with no consideration of the potential damage it could cause to Northern Ireland.

"Those who want a hard Brexit are portraying it as the liberation of the UK but if you look at the population trends and the wealth and productivity trends, they could be consigning one of the greatest nations in human history to a smaller role," he added.

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