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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