Des Kenny Reviews Marc Guinan - ‘What is Painting?...’

August 4, 2015

31 July 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Marc Guinan ...  

Marc Guinan's minimalist paintings delineate the walls of Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery with sustained colourful rhythms and material presence. They follow the minimalist doctrine propounded by New York artists in the 1960’s which declared the use of simple geometric forms, a monochromatic palette and the use of industrial materials presented unadorned in their primitive state. The basic substance of these paintings is manufactured by pouring acrylic paint over glass or acetate and when dry it is peeled away, cut and placed over a stretcher. An infinite variety of presentation is created by tilting the stretcher at various angles, allowing folds ebb and flow unceremoniously over the gallery walls. They become less mechanical structures that have a closed perceptual engagement but grow into an open organic composition that flickers outward into the connected space of a painting and receptive eyes.

The painting called Cream allows the folds of material cascade downwards like the sheets of clothing carved into white marble by renaissance and baroque sculptors. This allusion to art history and the creation of a metaphorical reference for minimalist painting appears to deviate from the aesthetic context of the New York school but it does allow a broader uninhibited interpretation of these works and enriches the visual experience. Indeed in Blue Black, the shadow cast by the work appears to create a bat like image on the gallery wall, of course an unintended result of gallery lights falling on the painting. Can this Blue Black painting be an observation of the night sky with a shadow of a bat reinforcing this analysis? These paintings become a battleground between personnel observation and an art historical framework which at times are unable to couple a truce between these conflicting arguments. This argumentative tension does not overwhelm these works but adds another dimension to their sculptural presence.

In Yellow Purple this conflict is less pronounced and does not obscure the materiality of its fabrication with its visual realisation by the viewer. A flat meditive yellow rectangle tilted off centre is disrupted by a rippling flap of purple. The combative nature of complimentary colours increases the tension in the piece as both colours vie for supremacy. The sedate yellow does not allow the strident purple to dominate the composition but the serenity intensifies as the colourful interference by the reflective yellow deepens.

Both sides of the plastic material which make these paintings expand outwards in an architectural sweep on the gallery walls and at the same time an inverse momentum returns the fabric to the centre. In  Green Red this theme is explored fully as the plastic material in a triangular form points with certainty at the green centre as a secondary red triangle emerges and reinforces this motion inwards. The right hand side ripples away and loops back like the drop curtain on a stage. Yet behind all these urgent sweeping shapes flapping like a sail in the wind there is a focused stillness tautly holding the straining composition together. Movement, calm and complimentary colours combine to ratchet up our visual awareness as the flowering forms unfold on the gallery walls.

There are a number of small square canvases which explore and move away from the self imposed restrictive palette of the larger paintings. A greater number of colour combinations inventively activate the surface of these works. A silver canvas has an orange centre surrounded by a black and white square with a piece of green strip pushing beyond the canvas surface. In other canvases thin strips of material twist and twirl on the picture plain, goading colours to escape their monotone backgrounds. In these small works the artist appears to strive beyond the doubtless weathered parameters of minimalism towards a more inclusive personnel vision.

Read more about Marc'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: Reviews & Interviews, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Marc Guinan,

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,

Every week of Me and You Music has been a musical journey of fun and enjoyment.

June 10, 2015

Musician Mischa O' Mahony has been facilitating workshops in Draíocht every Monday for the last few weeks. Here Mischa tells us a little bit about what all those babies and toddlers have been doing during their time here. If you would like to keep up to date with Draíocht's early years programme, why not sign up for our Ezine here.


Well, we are nearing the end of our (sold-out) Me & You Music music sessions. It’s been such a pleasure working in Draiocht and a real treat meeting all the parents with their absolutely fantastic and music loving children. Every week has been a musical journey full of fun and enjoyment.

We have done so much in the past weeks, the babies have:
• learned some lovely little rhymes and songs using their hands and fingers,
• bounced and galloped on their parents laps,
• gotten their hands on some real musical instruments like drums, shakers and bells,
• been swayed and danced around in mummies arms,
• played peekaboo with their parents and with their fellow babies in the class,
• have been pleasantly surprised by puppets and happily watched rainbow streamers waving to the beat,
• listened to lots of songs, some ukulele and even a little saxophone playing.

The toddlers have been working hard too… they have:
• used their hands and feet in lots of action songs,
• rolled, marched and danced,
• rowed their boats in real wavy water, walked through the jungle and buzzed around like bees,
• played musical instruments like shakers, drums, bells, claves, and chime bars,
• bounced teddies on trampolines together,
• played peekaboo and pretended to be jack in the box,
• danced together in our circle,
• met my puppet friend Freddy and his friends,
• learned lots of new songs.

It really looks like they had so much fun and I hope to have awoken their curiosity and enthusiasm for making music, singing songs and dancing. The idea behind the classes is that the parents bring the music and songs home, to encourage this I have emailed songs to the parents so they can continue singing long after the classes have finished. Songs for in the car, for walking to the park, action songs and songs just for the pure joy of singing. Children love nothing more than the voice of their own parents… apart from the sound of their own voice!

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By Draíocht. Tags: Reviews & Interviews, Youth Arts, Mischa O'Mahony,

Focus On ... Your Funny Bone

May 27, 2015

Thanks to Mark Stanley from Punch Lion for giving us this superb insight into our recent 'Focus On ... Your Funny Bone' comedy workshops in May with 5th & 6th Class pupils.


Draíocht invited 5th and 6th class students to comedy workshops hosted by Punch Lion which would incorporate two art exhibitions currently on show.   ‘Focus on ….Your Funny Bone’ integrated the ‘look and respond’ of the primary curriculum. Overall, the aim of the workshops was to awaken creativity, facilitate thoughts and opinions and introduce humour.

The two exhibitions with different styles, themes and colours challenged the students to express themselves and feel comfortable. The ground floor exhibition by Sally-Anne Kelly comprises of clay masks and photographs of the clay masks in pools of water. On the first floor, Helen MacMahons exhibition is an engaging mix of science and art. This was the start of the workshop for the students - it was a time to free their minds and develop an opinion.

Peter O’Byrne and Danny Kehoe were the two facilitators for these workshops. Trained actors and comedians. They have tricks up their sleeves for the students - “If you want to be funny. Don’t try to be funny”, Danny advised. Art and comedy have the same aim - be creative, express yourself and be true. The students were firstly asked about their opinion of the exhibitions and their feelings about them. Opinions were supported by the facilitators and reminders were given to the value of each opinion. The initial exercises aimed at making the students comfortable and free their minds. Comedy is a valued genre in performance arts. The students eagerly discussed their favourite stand-up comedians and comedy films, recited their best joke and giggled at the ‘bad’ jokes from Danny and Peter.

A short time was allocated for these workshops and Peter and Danny quickly directed the students to challenge their comedy performance skills and the students enthusiastically played their parts. Teamwork, respect, individuality and silliness were all encouraged. Creativity is important for children’s development. Comedy and art are equally important disciplines allowing you to create and stimulate your mind. They are also subjective and we hope we conveyed that message to the students.

Charlie Chaplin had his own opinion - “I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.”


Mark Stanley, Punch Lion

Follow Punch Lion on Twitter @Punch_Lion, Facebook Punch Lion and

Now Booking ... Punch Lion Kids Comedy Club ... Sat 4th July 2015 2pm & 4pm ...
A family friendly stand-up comedy show for little kids and big kids!

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By Draíocht. Tags: Reviews & Interviews, Theatre, Youth Arts,

Des Kenny Reviews Helen MacMahon - Profero

May 18, 2015

18 May 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Helen MacMahon - Profero…

Art and science find common ground in Helen Mac Mahon’s show in the First Floor Gallery of Draíocht. These two divergent disciplines combine to form a dialogue which illuminates their parallel search for truth and beauty. The placement of the art works in the gallery seems to follow a hidden mathematical theorem for defining exhibition space. An ordered harmony of coherent intervals places each work exactly where it is required to satisfy a luminous eye.

Radii is placed on a slender white pedestal in a corner of the gallery. A square mirror painted in a medative black reveals a silver star in the heart of the equitable form. The black absorbs light while the silver mirror reflects light causing a shimmering tension on the surface and a sense of movement appears to occur as the viewer circulates the form. The act of looking transforms the indolent object into a twinkling illusion.

On the wall are four images created with the aid of heat cast by a variety of different light bulbs upon a heat sensitive material. The light source is on a timer which comes on and off in fifteen minutes cycles. Notional forms appear on the heated surfaces and fade like a spectrical entity when the surface cools. Steely blues and purples gather in the centre while emerald greens and toxic oranges flare out towards the edges. Pulsating cycles of presence and absence articulate these works with the parallel patterns of life and death that is part of life’s convulsive existence.

A sculptural arrangement of metal slinkies holds center stage on the gallery floor. The slinkies appear to float upon the white parapet and there surface ripples with illusory movement. A wave like pattern rolls across the undulating surface as the observer approaches the installation. The false sense of motion is triggered by the moving spectator. Our formulation of reality depends on retinal information that unfortunately provides false data to the brain. The perception of the world formulated by our glaring eyes is untrustworthy and doubt begins to gather on the abundant shores of reason.

Placed in a gentle curve are four Magnographs, beautifully crafted devices which display the effects of magnetic energy upon a receptive film. The inner workings of the device are displayed which of course raises the natural curiosity level of a visitor. The lid of the apparatus is tilted forward revealing a mirror showing the inverted image of magnetic material placed on the underside of the display surface. The bowels of the mechanism are exposed to inquisitive investigation awakening a beckoning call that lays deep within the human psyche, a desire for knowledge. The inclination to understand the unknown lifts a species beyond the control of its environment to controlling its habitat. The exquisite pleasure derived from comprehending the concept of these mechanisms is perhaps uniquely human.

While black is the predominant colour for the objects in this exhibition allowing light to focus on the viewing surfaces this technique is absent when looking at a group of digital photographs examining the luminous property of light. The white gallery walls surround the gleaming images with bordered neutrality, transporting the inner light of the photographs to flutter towards the visitors receptive eyes. Silver spectral shapes emerge from gloomy depths and float eloquently like snowflakes unwinding in the air. Circular shapes materialise from an ethereal blue as phosphorescent oranges and yellows simmer in the darkness.

All in all science and art collaborate on equal terms to present an engaging show from the thoughtful vision of Helen Mac Mahon. 

Draíocht's Galleries are open Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm. Admission is Free.

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, Desmond Kenny, Helen MacMahon,

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