Des Kenny talks to Deirdre Byrne, Artist in Residence at Draíocht

May 1, 2012

May 2012

Deirdre Byrne is the current artist in residence at Draíocht Arts Centre.  The studio is a dominion to the creative act,  a world where achievement and failure walk hand in hand with certainty and doubt, imagination is allowed free reign, constrained only by material and monetary limitations. The artist pursues their goal on an emotional tightrope, balanced between art and artifice, without a safety net; in the hope their tempered talent alone will fabricate a work of art. This effusive high wire act can leave an artist emotionally compromised and susceptible to criticism. So with this concern in mind I left outside the studio, the critic’s cold eye and entered this seminal sphere instead to bear witness to the artist’s creative virtuosity.

We initially avoided relating to the art works but instead talked about the studio in Draíocht and laughed about studios in our past with no running water and frozen toilets , electrical outlets that only those with courage and suited in rubber gloves approached. We discussed the disabling costs of framing and trying to source materials for art. All this of course was to disguise my reticence in uttering a wrong word that may destroy a work of art reaching it’s full potential. Most art in a studio are works in progress, cultivated and unfurled petal by petal by the artists flowering imagination, and a withering word can end this journey. But eventually we relaxed in each other’s company and began to look and discuss the works.

Around the studio floor were arranged pen and ink drawings of various sizes. Deirdre looks at landscape not in a traditional descriptive manner but in a conceptual context. Some drawings charter the demise of the Celtic tiger and images of ghost estates float in clouds, harbouring a dark storm which laid waste to this country. In some areas the ink runs like tears through mascara tracing the blemishing effects of the emotional trauma arcing throughout this stunted land. In another drawing a bungalow has a ridiculous number of ornate chimneys protruding through the roof. In the distant past, a tax was charged to residents on the number of hearths found in a house. This tax was partially used to pay for pelts of wolves which roamed our country. Indeed The Blanchardstown Centre now resides on land that was part of a great forest, where wolves roamed. Deirdre takes up this theme in a number of drawings. Wolves walk through a structure which is reminiscent of the town centre. The intersection of past and present are fused together, revealing the connections between the ancient ravaging of our land and the present endowment of calamity we visited upon ourselves. It’s as if Deirdre is professing that the wounds of the past, must find some resolution before we treat today’s desolation.

There were paintings on wood in a germinal state not fully realised but have potential and perhaps we shall see them on the walls of Draíocht in June2012 when Deirdre will have a solo show.

I have a ragged worn belief that art can transform society and on leaving Draíocht, looking across the concourse of the town centre, Deirdre’s art seeded my imagination with ancient forests and roaming wolves and I asked forgiveness for their destructive demise. With my perception of past and present amplified and those ancient shades fading from my mind, that fugitive faith in arts redemptive powers were reinforced.

Deirdre Byrne is Artist in Residence in Draíocht from July 2011 to June 2012.

Deirdre Byrne with Emer McGowan, Director Draiocht

Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

Des Kenny, Rosie Fay and President of Ireland Mary McAleese

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Deirdre Byrne, Desmond Kenny,

Des Kenny Reviews Amharc Fhine Gall VIII Unknown Knowns

November 18, 2011

Friday 18 November 2011

Amharc Fhine Gall VIII
Unknown Knowns

Ailve McCormack, Lisa Shaughnessy, Andrew Carson & Sally-Anne Kelly

This show in Draíocht grants recent art graduates living in Co Fingal the opportunity to exhibit and promote their art with curatorial assistance.

Sally-Anne Kelly examines, through photography, the experience or existence of a second self, almost like a doppel-ganger, if you wish. These two selves seem to compete for dominance over each other. Both selves striving for supremacy instead of co-operation and this disturbing duality frames the characters in a psychological setting which remains unresolved. This anxious state increases our curiosity to delve and decipher the final outcome for these characters.

Andrew Carson’s art explores the belief systems found in the ancient Egyptian book of the dead. How they equipped themselves for the next life, as it were. On one wall we have black gauze like material which depicts a shadow, giving the shadow a ghostly 3D dimension. A door in the centre of the gallery acts as a portal to the unknown. A lit candle captured on an i-phone, never extinguishing, running 24/7 on the gallery wall. Candles throughout art history have depicted the terse nature of life. Andrews candle does not diminish but shines with an everlasting glow. This work explores in a profound manner our wishful desire to understand our future demise.

Lisa Shaughnessy uses a variety of materials to create strange protuberant bulbous forms on the walls and melted configurations on the gallery floor. They appear; as if they are gluttonous, esurient remnants of a fire, ghost like forms of another material past. They push into the gallery space as if unrestrained and it is as if, only the artist can grapple and restrain the materials before they vitiate the whole gallery.

Ailve McCormack is a young curator who selected the artists for this show. Fingal’s invitation to this young curator is rewarded admirably by her understanding of placement of art in a gallery space. She does this by choreographing our visual experience and sightline in the gallery space with the use of diagonals. Andrews work is spaced on one diagonal direction and Lisa and Sally-Anne traverse this diagonal. The artists do not occupy their own specific isolated space but are interwoven like dancers on a stage. Performing, pirouetting and interconnecting in the space for our visual delight.

Des Kenny

Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

Des Kenny, Rosie Fay & President of Ireland Mary McAleese


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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Ailve McCormack, Andrew Carson, Desmond Kenny, Lisa Shaughnessy, Sally-Anne Kelly,

Des Kenny launches Caroline Donohue’s Exhibition

November 17, 2011

Caroline Donohue
Selected Works to Date
FRI 18 NOV - SUN 26 FEB 2012

Caroline Donohue

Opening Night Launch Speech by Des Kenny
Thursday 17 November 2011, 7pm

Caroline is a fellow member of the Graphic studio. She first arrived into the studio on receipt of a Graduate Student award. She has participated in many group shows run by graphic members and those organised by the Graphic Studio and Gallery. This is a selected body of work.

The opening lines of a poem by E.E. Cummins begin with:-
Dreaming in marble all the castle lay
Like some gigantic ghost-flower born of night
Blossoming in white towers to the moon

This imagery evoked by Cummins, would, I believe, find a home in Caroline’s work. Her works straddle that border between the conscious and unconscious worlds. They seem to act as a conduit to both experiences. They inhabit that twilight reality of our dreams, half forgotten, half remembered, full of portents and signs and if understood and unravelled would guide us through our daily life. They remain mysterious, the question of their meaning linger unanswered and that is their attraction. The riddle of their interpretation is different for each viewer. The works demand quiet reflection before they give up their secrets.

They have another innate quality that intrigues me; they seem, bound in silence.
E.E. Cummins denotes this state in his poetry as “silence in the rhyme”.
It is said, in music, art lies in the silence, between the notes. I never fully understood this notion of silence in visual art until I encountered three paintings on the same wall, in the museum of modern art in Rome. The three paintings were, a large CY Tyombly measuring 10feetx 15feet, another large painting by Anselm Kiefer of equal size and between these two works was a Giorgio Morandi about 18inches x 24 inches. It seemed a ridiculous combination to me, how could this small, quiet, Morandi compete with its large boisterous neighbours. This small Morandi seemed to emanate from its centre a serene truth. Its silence had a compelling power. A strength which seemed to beguile its neighbours and overcome its handicap in size.

Caroline’s work has a similar character; an atmosphere of silence surrounds her work, upon which the fulcrum of her art pivots. This feature of her work acts as a counterpoint and antidote to the boisterous white noise of today’s contemporary art world. This silence appears to slow down time to that focal point of our imagination, that internal realm, which is an integral part of our humanity.

Des Kenny


“This body of work has been inspired by my ongoing exploration of physical, psychological and poetic space. I am interested in the delicate point where man and the natural world co-exist or in some cases collide. I strive to create places for poetic possibility, a space where time can be suspended; I extend to the onlooker a glimpse of intricate private worlds. Each narrative creates a dialogue between these internal and external conflicting worlds, thus providing a place to dream.” Caroline Donohue
Read more about Caroline here

 Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

Des Kenny, Rosie Fay, President of Ireland Mary McAleese


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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Caroline Donohue, Desmond Kenny,

Ailve McCormack talks to artist Lisa Shaughnessy

November 16, 2011

In the lead up to the opening of Amharc Fhine Gall VIII - Unknown Knowns, curator Ailve McCormack talks to artist Lisa Shaughnessy about the work she is exhibiting.

Lisa Shaughnessy


Lisa Shaughnessy


Q: Can you tell me a bit about the work you’re making for this exhibition and can you talk through how you made some of the work?

The work I am exhibiting for ‘Unknown Knowns’ concerns itself with the physicality and materiality of the artists materials, primarily paint and materials concerned with the painting process. Within my practice, the work explores the historical and conceptual meanings of painting within a contemporary context.

For this exhibition I have honed in on the ideas of manipulating such materials in a way which is somewhat unintended or ‘unknown’. This is done by removing the materials from their traditional backdrop and manipulating them by means such as pouring, spilling, containing, layering, pushing and pulling. In doing this, new forms and structures are created, which examine and blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture.

As well as adapting new methods for this body of work, I have introduced some other materials such as polyurethane foam and polythene sheets. The polyurethane foam is sprayed on various surfaces to mimic tensions, shapes or textures. It is then manipulated and coated as the volume increases and the material expands.
In this exhibition I will be showing some of these foam and polythene sheet pieces as well as some polyvinyl and pigment pieces.


Q: You have recently moved towards a layering of the paint and building up form with this new body of work, what instigated this move?

I think it was more of a natural progression within my practice really. Previously, I had rolled, cast and smoothed out flat plains of paint, however as my work develops so too do my ideas. It had become my intention to introduce new dimensions and elements to the work, building up and developing innovative forms and structures.

As an example, paint is mixed, thickened or thinned, poured and is left to dry. The paint forms a thin film of skin which is then used as a base to layer fresh paint, this process is repeated numerous times to build up form. As this is being done the different strengths of material are forced to interact with each other, constructing and deconstructing the painting in the process, creating new forms, textures, layers and shades.

Q: You used to work with a florescent colour pallet, what made you move towards the more muted tones you’re now using?

The decision to move into more muted tones, (blacks, whites and varying shades of grey), was one that I have been contemplating for a while now. Florescent colours had been present within my practice for a long time and I felt as though it had come to a point where deeper, more muted colours would allow the work to progress, shifting the focus and tone somewhat.

The darker, more muted colours simplify the aesthetic of the work, allowing the viewer to see more clearly the workings of the material itself. Occasional flashes of florescent colour are still present within some of the new work.


Q: Your work is quite ambiguous yet stages of artistic processes can be seen, are you interested in representing the artists process through your work or is this something that happens naturally because of the nature of your work? Do you feel that your work is prescriptive or does it mostly allow the viewer to bring their own meanings to it?

When people view work, they will make of it what they will. Whether they read the information that goes along with it or not, everyone will have their own perceptions and ideas about what the work is, what it does or what it means. This is something that I have to recognise and be aware of as an artist.

As my work is centred upon the materiality and physicality of the artist’s materials, there is an underpinning element present that deals with the artists processes. This came about originally as I became interested in investigating the artists relationship with their practice, the materials they use, their concepts and their processes of creating art.

Within my practice I explore different methods of creating work and manipulating materials. The processes that occur are essential to the outcome of the work. I find that the aesthetic nature of my work lends itself to ambiguity and I rather enjoy that element.


Q: You’ve said that your work deals with “historical and conceptual meanings of painting and sculpture within a contemporary context.” Can you expand on this with reference to a specific work?

Generally when people think about painting, they think about traditional methods such as representational, religious or classic motifs, oil on canvas etc. As too with sculpture, it can be more concerned with traditional materials such as wood, marble, bronze etc. and not really associated with painting. By freeing the paint from the traditional constraints of the canvas and placing it on the floor, I am allowing it to interact with its surroundings, thus the work takes on a three dimensional persona.

As the paint is being used in a three dimensional way, it takes on a sculptural form. As mentioned in the curatorial statement for the exhibition, with this blurring between the boundaries of painting and sculpture, “what the viewer felt they knew about these materials becomes a little less certain but the fundamental qualities of the materials are still apparent. These known and familiar materials have been manipulated in such a way as to render them initially unknown.”

I am interested in allowing the audience to see the workings of paint, not just as a flat material used to paint pictures, but as a material and artwork in itself. My practice plays with ideas of presenting these materials and unconventional artistic processes as the focal point of the work in a contemporary context.


To see more of Lisa's work visit her website:


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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Lisa Shaughnessy,

Ailve McCormack talks to artist Sally-Anne Kelly

November 14, 2011

In the lead up to the opening of Amharc Fhine Gall VIII - Unknown Knowns, curator Ailve McCormack talks to artist Sally Anne Kelly about the work she is exhibiting.

Next Ailve will be talking to Lisa Shaughnessy.


Sally-Anne Kelly


 Sally-Anne Kelly

Q: Can you tell me about the work you have made for this exhibition?

For this exhibition I am showing a selection of photographs from two new projects, ‘The Hunted Self’ and ‘The Detached Other’. Although they ended up in very different places both works are focused around the same ideas and themes.

One can see the inner hidden self as a double, capable of being projected through various media and platforms for constructing ones own identity, and perhaps splitting off from the subject and becoming its own being. The work in this exhibition explores these hidden selves. I am interested in the instability and inter-changeability of the self and the interior power struggle between these various selves.

Q: “Ideas about the uncanny” are something you refer to in your work, can you expand on this?

I have long been interested in unsettling, frightening ideas and a specific branch of these which Freud refers to as ‘the uncanny’, that which disturbs identity, system and order. I am interested in the uncanny as a sensory feeling with a physical reaction. The uncanny is related to what is frightening, a feeling of dread and uncertainty and is often seen as something familiar that has been altered somehow, made strange through the process of repression.

For me some of the most frightening aspects of the uncanny involve ideas concerning the double.

Q: You work a lot with identity and the ‘double’. Can you tell me a bit about this and where this came from?

I am currently preoccupied with exploring ideas about who we are, who we think we are, who we become, who others think we are, and who we present ourselves as being. These projected versions and the various representations of the self through the multiplication of identity and the double. I looked at the double and the other as a psychoanalytical subject. Before it is possible to discuss the double or the other, one must understand what this double is a reflection of. If I am talking about the other, then what is ‘the own’?

For me the double can refer to a representation of the ego that can assume various forms such as a shadow, reflection, a doppelganger or a distorted representation of the subject. I also think of the double as a version of the self, leading me to interests around multiple versions of the self and how we project these various selves around us through our actions and various media.

I think a lot about the instability and inter-changeability of the subject and all these alternating versions of the subject. The work in this exhibition looks at ideas around the possibilities of these interior selves coming out as alter egos and as an interior power struggle with this distorted version of the subject that can take off and being its own uncontrollable being or the idea of being controlled by another being within yourself.

Q: You talk about the “interior power struggle between these various selves”. How is this represented in your work?

When thinking about these various inner and projected selves I became interested in the power struggle between them. I’m interested in the idea of hidden selves fighting back against the ‘original’ and if it’s possible to even know the difference between them.

Dual consciousness and the splitting of the personality can be seen as an extreme form of the double. One thinks about the splitting of consciousness, the possibility of the darker parts of the consciousness breaking off from the subject in the unconscious but eventually reappearing as an evil double who wants to kill the original.

I’m interested in seeing this from the viewpoint of the ‘other’ or the double or whatever you want to see it as. Stories told from the viewpoint of this character are very interesting to me. I like setting up scenarios where these ignored characters come forward in different ways, sometimes aggressively, or just making their presence known.

Q: You work across various different media - film, photography, sculpture and theatre and performance art - can you talk a bit about how each of these media relate to and facilitate your work?

I find working collaboratively and in a wide variety of media an interesting way of pushing my practice forward. Seeing the various possibilities open to me and working with a wide variety of people gives an amazing influx of new ideas and things to try. My practice moves between photography, film, performance and theatre. I find that this helps me to avoid getting stuck in a rut with my work. If something’s not working it’s easy to let it go and move on with another project. Exploring my ideas through a variety of mediums forces me to look at them through new eyes, different constraints and possibilities.


More of Sally-Anne's work can be seen on her website

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Sally-Anne Kelly,

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