Des Kenny talks to Orla Kelly Artist in Residence at Draiocht
Orla Kelly has completed six months of a yearlong residency in Draíocht’s Artist’s Studio. While making her own distinctive art, Orla is also involved in educating young children through the visual arts and is the founder of ‘Early Childhood Creativity’. She has participated with Draíocht in organising creative crèches for young infants and initiating projects based on its current visual art exhibitions with local primary schools. On entering the studio this process of her practice shapes corners with colours of vibrant youthful activity, cone shaped objects become rockets, pom-poms transform into flower heads and a tea pot acquires a humorous face. Orla believes the introduction of artistic creativity to very young children, helps develop creative thinking, social skills and a sense of self esteem. Art is not just a procedure to entertain children but is an important educational tool. With assistance from Fingal County Council Arts Office, Orla will become Artist in Residence in a local primary school from September 2014. Setting up a studio near the classrooms, she will share her artistic knowledge with the teachers and students. Despite all the demands these projects place on her time, Orla still ensures her own artistic output is sustained. Evidence of this pursuit lines the walls, floor and desks of the studio.
Tiny Tots Tuesdays in Draiocht's Workshop Room
Orla Kelly with fellow artist Andrew Carson
Orla Kelly - The Creative Creche Project - Draiocht
Works in various states of completion, call for attention, demanding definition from the artist. Each work of art maintains a different timescale as it struggles unhurried towards consummation. Orla has worked on one piece for two years and she allows the trembling seconds, minutes and days pass until the work of art, no longer require her presence and become a self contained reality. When this moment arrives the artist lets go and the work can leave the private domain of the studio and enter the public arena. On an end wall, three unstretched overlapping canvasses challenge each other for recognition. The predominant work is mainly grey with vibrant blues rising to the surface. Orla is inspired by aerial views of landscapes, where the land becomes compressed and more abstract. Traceries of rivers resemble veins and arteries weaving across the breathing earth. In another canvas, a square charcoal grid covers the canvas surface, enclosing an irregular patch of pulsating yellow and midnight black which attempt to escape the rigid mesh like structure.
An interesting technique using wax, melted on paper or canvas and covered with black gesso is the source of striking imagery. One work generated with these materials on paper has a print like quality similar to an etching. A cell like oval form that lay hidden, submerged beneath the blackened wax is excavated and released by the artists hands. In areas the scouring is so vigorous that indentations cover the paper lending the surface a fractured but tactile characteristic. Innovative images are also fabricated using darkened wax on glass. The wax is removed from the glass with needles or heat, the glass plate is than placed over photographic paper and exposed to light. The photographic paper is fixed and an image gradually emerges. The resultant image has a faded spectral aspect, lending them a claustrophobic but mysterious atmosphere.
On another wall six small canvases hold your interest as the lurching paint, skims across their surface groping blindly for enigmatic forms. In a larger work wild blues, skate around a dissolving white form as an intimate yellow allows the eye to linger momentarily above turbulent greens. Works like these are a struggling launch into the unknown. The artist must always surrender to the chaos of creativity without knowing the final outcome and making art becomes a leap of faith. Orla Kelly makes this impulsive leap of faith, each day she enters the studio.
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.