Des Kenny Reviews Andrew Carson - Pilgrim

October 5, 2015

05 October 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Andrew Carson ...  

As you look down at the careful placement of your feet on each step of the spiral staircase leading to the First Floor Gallery in Draíocht, there is a slight feeling of vertigo as you are demanded to look suddenly upwards on the final step. At this juncture, black geodesic globes suspended from the ceiling immediately greet your eye and flow in a gentle curve towards the centre of the exhibition space. Ahead of this stream of geodesic spheres is a lone golden globe which appears to pull all the others in its wake.

The gallery space is carved out to lead the spectator inwards on a theatrical journey to explore the sublime vastness of the heavens. Distances of outer space are so vast; it can overwhelm the finite mind so the artist reduces whole universes to a globe that can be held in your hand. These geodesic spheres are covered in shimmering stars that light up the dark fabric of space.

At the far end of the gallery twelve black opaque panels stand erect like sentinels. These dark panels appear unrevealing until close examination unveils delicate lines of notation representing the binary code. They emit an opalescent sheen which separates the mathematical symbols from the dull surface of the panels. The message appears camouflaged in mystery awaiting a key to unlock its meaning.

The panels are a physical representation of a radio wave missive transmitted from a radio telescope in Puerto Rico in 1974. The transmission took three minutes to broadcast into the night sky. The radio telescope was pointed at M13, a mass of stars in the great cluster of Hercules. The system contains 300,000 stars with probably an equal number of planets. The scientific community with the aid of radio waves wished to contact alien life that may exist on these worlds. The binary system used by the scientists is an easy language to interpret. The numerals, equate to black and white squares, were 1 forms a black square and zero creates a white square. When decoded a simple pictorial image is formed, showing the image of man, the DNA helix and the position of earth and corresponding planets orbiting our sun. To this day the message remains unanswered, the night skies glistening constellations respond with the unending echo of silence.

While navigating the gallery space absorbing the functionality of the artists process, an underlying meaning is formed around the work. A subtext that does not overpower the visual reality of the show but allows the viewer unearth the moral quietly. It’s a realisation that the act of searching is more important than discovery. The subterranean impulses carrying humanity beyond a limited vision that contains creativity and outward to a limitless horizon were the imagination is unbound, define a culture. In the gloomy silence of empty space the lonely pilgrim searches undaunted with hope as a guide. 


Read more about Andrew's show ... 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.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Andrew Carson, Desmond Kenny,

Des Kenny talks to Andrew Carson Artist in Residence at Draiocht

July 7, 2015

07 July 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny chats to Andrew Carson ...  

Andrew Carson is the current Artist in Residence in Draiocht Blanchardstown, until December 2015.

Large unadorned glass windows reveal the inner sanctum of the Artist’s Studio to the passing public as they meander with restless intent through the clamorous bustle of a commercial shopping centre. The transparent shield of glass protects the studio from prevailing urgency of time speeding forward as shoppers obey the beckoning call of consumerism. Inside the studio time moves slower, snared by the artist’s reluctance to allow creativity become a porous commodity but a place where the imagination unfolds unbound in dream like intervals. Now and then a passerby smitten by curiosity will stop and look at the artist as he works and maybe walk away with an incomprehensible desire to reflect on the hubris of modern life. Andrew displays a video at night to create an audience for his practice when he is absent from the studio. The video contains people walking back and forth on a nameless street overlaid with words of a song. The words of the song surround and occupy the same space as the people in the video, not impeding their passage but allowing the world pass by in a stream of subliminal information.

We talk over the methodical whirr of a machine that is cutting paper to a design created by the artist. The paper is covered with a protective plastic film upon which a dark night sky is displayed. The odd star twinkles in the all consuming infinite darkness. The paper is then folded and a tetrahedron is constructed.  These objects are found hanging from the ceiling in various arrangements or are placed on a pedestal to form a pyramid structure. In one particular format they are suspended from the ceiling silhouetted against a black painted wall granting the illusion that they float unaided in space like a magicians trick. In another arrangement they hang like a mobile Calder-like sculpture which begins to twirl in a confined orbit after a gentle nudge from the artist. He tells me that the work is displayed in an experimental fashion and a final decision waits unuttered. The large studio space permits the artist room to gaze languidly inwards into the rarefied hinterland of the imagination and then glance into the distance of concrete reality and discover if an idea can satisfy both inner and outer realms. This is a luxury for the artist as he explains how he shared a space with a number of other artists and the constant demands to negotiate and accommodate the needs of each person’s artistic ambitions aggravates the calm required to produce art.

Fixed to a supporting pillar is a large sheet of binary notation. The artist explains that it is part of a coded message sent into space on a satellite searching for life in outer space. It is the artist’s intention to make a large version of this message and display it in some fashion in a future exhibition. The off cuts from this process are not discarded but find themselves stuck on the opposite side of the pillar and create a meandering line searching for a purpose.

On a makeshift table a cowled figurine like an unannounced dark prophecy stands starkly profiled against a white wall. Maybe it is a machete for a grand sculpture where a larger version will reveal the reason for its shrouded mystery. Beside the figurine is a bug eyed skull that appears to gaze humorously at life’s unfulfilled expectations. The skull knows our final destination and whether time moves slow or quick we are destined to meet in his breathless kingdom.

Some artists draw the blinds down while working in the Draiocht Studio, demanding privacy and excluding the outside world from interfering with the creative process. Andrew Carson allows the passing world look at him making art, fulfilling the vision of the buildings architect who thought the artist and the local community could engage openly. This discourse the architect believed would have a profound effect, enriching the lives of both parties.

Read more about Andrew ... 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.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Reviews & Interviews, Visual Arts, Andrew Carson, Desmond Kenny,

Free Family Day: Printing Christmas Cards

December 17, 2012

Free Family Day: Printing Christmas Cards

Unlike most years, we had a pretty quiet Family Day on the 8th of December... it could be because it coincided with probably one of the busiest Christmas shopping days of the year! But those that joined us in our first floor gallery printed some very beautiful cards with the help of our artists Jenny, Deirdre, Gen and Andrew.

If you want to make some printed Christmas cards like these at home, you can make a version of what we did with the help of a bit of recycling! Just keep the polystyrene trays that fruit and vegetables sometimes come in and any wrapping, posters or sheet of paper that have a plastic feel to them that might come in your letter box.

Start by using a pen to draw into the Polystyrene, marking out whatever picture you would like to print. Then roll out some paint- we used printing ink and perspex, but acylic paint would do the job and you could spread it onto the plastic coated advertisment that came through your door. This is so the paint is nice and thin...

Best to get you hands on a roller, which you can get from most art supply shops- but a paintbrush will work too.

Next, roll the paint out on to the polystyrene picture (as shown above), thinly and evenly and then press it down onto some paper.


Give it a good rub, pull it off and hey presto, you have a print!

Another idea is to cut up the polystyrene (or thick cardboard would do), then arrange and glue your cut out shapes onto a square of carboard, in a design you like. Roll over your design with an inked up roller. The paint will attach only to the design, as it is raised away from the cardboard base. You have created a stamp. Place your inked stamp down onto a sheet of paper and once again, give it a good rub. When you take it off, only your design should remain.



You can print these stamps over and over again in as many coloures as you would like. Once the print has dried you can glue it on to some card and discover that you will never have to buy a Christmas card again!


We also improvised & made some Christmas decorations for our tree with the left over print templates…

Any Questions, feel free to give drop me a mail ( or drop into our next FREE family Day on Sat 26th of January 2013- We will be making piggy banks.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Youth Arts, Andrew Carson, Deirdre O'Reilly, Genevieve Harden,

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: Reviews & Interviews, Visual Arts, Ailve McCormack, Andrew Carson, Desmond Kenny, Lisa Shaughnessy, Sally-Anne Kelly,

Ailve McCormack talks to artist Andrew Carson

November 11, 2011

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

Next week Ailve will be talking to Sally-Anne Kelly and Lisa Shaughnessy.

Andrew Carson

Andrew Carson

Q: Can you tell me about the work you are exhibiting in this exhibition?


The work in this show stems from my research into the ways in which we engage with each other and our surroundings through digital environments and text-based communications, and the effects these have on social paradigms and our perceptions of reality. There will be two new works in this show, one small video piece, and a larger installation. It’s a bit of a new departure for me aesthetics wise, and one of the first times I won’t be working with text itself.


Q: Your most recent work is inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead – what drew you to this book?


For as long as I can remember I’ve loved Ancient Egypt, and have been dipping in and out of reading the Book for years, but never really found a way I could in anyway link it to my art practice. About this time last year however, I just happened upon one chapter from it, “The Chapter of not dying a second time in Khert-Neter” and the spark was born. It’s been a lot of fun to make this work, as it finally combines two of my biggest passions in a way that is, for me, quite natural.


Q: Your current series of work is inspired by a chapter from this book that is concerned with the survival of the soul through the afterlife, how do you interpret this through your work?


The book itself was intended as a guide for surviving the passage through the underworld, and this particular chapter was designed to give the deceased the tools to ensure their soul lives on, through the dispersement of elements of the self amongst the cosmos. I began to see links between this concept, and our contemporary uses of social media sites, particularly Facebook’s decision in October 2009 to allow for the retrieval and download of a user’s entire account. For me, that opened up a world of unseen links between Egyptian afterlife beliefs, and the parts of ourselves we present online in public forums.


Q: You use a quote from the book within this series of work; "I have hidden myself amongst you, oh imperishable stars", which relates to “exploring online realities and virtual immortality”, can you explain this in more detail?


That quote comes from the afore-mentioned chapter that was the catalyst for the work. I really liked the poetic phrasing of one particular translation, and thought it best summed up my research and outputs from the series. I was looking at Facebooks memorialisation policy at the time, and found it really interesting that even after a user has passed on, the data and memories they uploaded to the site, lived on as a sort of shadow-self. This, coupled with other media sites generally used, such as Twitter, Google+ etc, allowed for a semblance of immortality, one that was not dependent on the continued existence of the physical self. The Egyptian concept of death did not only consist of the physical act of one’s body dying, but death in the Egyptian sense was also a separation from one’s social context, so for example, a person ostracised from the community, or left bereft of loved ones, was for all intents and purposes considered dead themselves. In contemporary terms, these perpetual online effigies circumvent death-by-social-exclusion.


Q: You have said that your work is inspired by a combination of “Eastern spiritual and philosophical thought, Structural and post-structural linguistic theories, folk and pop music, and 1960's psychedelic culture.” How do each of these influences manifest themselves in your work and can you expand a little on one or two?


I like tying different strands of inquiry together in my work, most of which stem from my own personal interests. Spiritualism holds a big attraction for me, especially Eastern forms, where the emphasis seems to be more based around personal enlightenment and betterment. The likes of Buddhism and Hinduism for example are appealing not only for their thoughts, but also for their rich visual history. There’s a sense of community, or greater belonging in a lot of religious identities, and that’s something that really attracts me to them. Similarly, I find music an almost infinite source of inspiration, in its use of language and poetry, alongside melody to create a lovely dynamic between being both intensely personal and emotive, and somewhat universal. In terms of manifesting these in my work, I often use particular songs, or lyric snippets to spark off a certain collective consciousness in the work, or to make immediately relatable to the viewer, whilst also utilising it to create an insight or frame of reference for the work and ideas I want to put forward.


You can see more of Andrews work on his website



Further Detail about Amharc Fhine Gall VIII can be found here

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By Draíocht. Tags: Reviews & Interviews, Visual Arts, Andrew Carson,