Des Kenny Reviews Sally-Anne Kelly - upon becoming aware of our Self

May 18, 2015

18 May 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Sally-Anne Kelly ‘upon becoming aware of our Self’ …

Sally-Anne Kelly’s photographs and ceramic sculptures occupy the hushed quiet of the Ground Floor Gallery in Draíocht. The artist employs various mould making techniques to create a likeness of a person which is cast in clay to form ceramic sculptures. The eyes of the cast figures are closed, frozen in a sleep of forgetfulness. The calm of the gallery is stirred by rippling anxiety that maybe these closed retinal sockets might open and plead for your attention and help. Sorrowful eyes that corner your guilt and demand you to share unrequited suffering. The eyes impervious to the outside world remain shut but gaze inwards towards the featureless land of the forsaken.

The artist places these sculptures in shallow tide pools and photographs the somnambulant figures. Every person has different identities we project for the variety of public and personal situations that consume our time. The urgent need to project new identities of ourselves with social media has fragmented our calm private life into the straying reality of the glittering advertising sphere. The shape shifting desire to occupy a raptured dream persona overcomes the reticent self that remain content in the dull cloaked world of everyday existence. The new persona discards the old and they collect like empty mollusc shells on the sea shore. In one photograph a black coloured mask sinks slowly into the sand of a tidal pool. Drifting sand swirls upwards as if the last breath has exhaled in an unfulfilled sigh. This dark solemn face does not belong to the brightly coloured happy faced Selfies that are part of new media’s throbbing attraction. Undesired, the dark mask will sink into the quickening sands of the abandoned. In another photograph a face slowly turns on its side in weary resignation meeting the incoming tide like a derelict caught on clinging rocks, unable to float.

A bright blue face appears misplaced in this land of the lost, a gregarious presence more suitable to the brightly coloured world of the computer screen, than stuck in the mud surrounded by shells. Perhaps a countenance too exuberant, too over-the-top, manic and uncontrollable, while fun for a short time was tossed aside into shimmering pools of the forsaken. Some faces take on the fractured semblance of a fallen warrior, a hardened visor broken unable to withstand the humiliating loss of dignity. Shattered and desolate like somebody who is on the wrong end of cyber bullying and whose silver screen destruction imposes its mark on a fragile personality.

The ceramic sculptures on the ground form a roughly drawn circle stretching outwards from an empty centre. The faces rotate outwards away from an interior that is empty, multiplying beyond the control of a central force. The singular has become a multitude, a convulsive entity ready to respond to any situation in real or cyber space with a different persona. The outer image must conceal inner tensions and present a video streamed edited version of the self. They sleep and awaken when required to act out a role that responds to exterior stimuli. They perform to a script which will attract a fulfilling response and applause from similar entities. Some forms are distorted in an embryonic state similar to creatures in a science fiction film about to invade its human host. Can the void in the nucleus of this sculptural entity be filled once again by a guiding philosophy that keeps our core identity intact? Questions and thoughts linger on after leaving this show, transforming how we perceive and project our self-image in today’s culture.

Des Kenny chats to fellow artist Sally-Anne Kelly.

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, Sally-Anne Kelly,

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 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: Reviews & Interviews, Visual Arts, Sally-Anne Kelly,