Cover image ‘Mountain Scene’ by Keelin Kennedy
I wrote this piece for our local newspaper the Connemara Journal a few weeks ago –
Keelin Kennedy is a visual artist and a native of Connemara. She is also a therapist, having almost finished an intensive three year course in Art Therapy. The strong practical element of this course has meant that Keelin has been able to continue and develop her own work throughout her studies. The quality that makes Keelins art unique in my view is the way in which she combines different materials to convey her subject.
‘Foggy Day’ by Keelin Kennedy
When I studied art ( a long time ago ) there was a perceived divide between the disciplines of fine art ( painting, printmaking and sculpture ) and craft design ( ceramics, metalwork, glass work and embroidery ). Fine art painting was considered to be a higher cause, attracting artists who ‘had something to say’ as opposed to the craft subjects which were often perceived as the option to take if you didn’t get accepted into painting. Of course this is utter nonsense and it vexes me now just to think about it.
Keelins work seems to effortlessly combine the separate skills of painting and embroidery. She manages to blend paint and thread seamlessly in her delicate and subtle depictions of the Connemara landscape with all it’s contradictions and nuances, it’s fierceness and it’s muted beauty. The landscape is Keelins main concern but she is also interested in abstraction so there is often a playfulness about the way her paintings are composed. She draws her inspiration from her surroundings but she often allows her materials to direct the work – objects and textiles that she has collected become starting points or are incorporated into a painting. Keelin works from a studio in her own home but says that she often ends up working on the kitchen table when her desk becomes too cluttered.
Keelin enjoys reading fairytales and watching films with an element of fantasy and magic, she mentions Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and Matthew Vaughan’s ‘Stardust’. The beguiling and sometimes hynotic nature of fairytale is a quality that is very present in her work in my view.
When I ask Keelin what advice she would give to an aspiring artist, she tells me that art is something that she has always wanted to do, in spite of what others have advised her in the past. ‘Never stop playing and experimenting’ she says – it is this kind of openness to learning and creativity that inspires great work.
You can read more about Keelin and view her work at www.connemaraartlink.com