ON SHOW A dyptych by Mary A Kelly, entitled ‘Stretch out tyour hand (Leonard Cohen to Marianne)’.
Two new exhibitions are opening in the Custom House Studios Gallery at Westport Quay this week – one solo show by Mary A Kelly and an end-of-year group show by the students of Westport College of Further Education. The openings for both shows take place on Thursday evening, from 7pm.
‘Chair’, by Mary A Kelly, will be opened by art historian, Catherine Marshall. This is a touring exhibition, initiated by West Cork Art Centre, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, and Westport’s Custom House Studios, supported by the Arts Council of Ireland.
In his book on meditation, ‘A Path with Heart’, Jack Kornfield describes taking the one seat in the centre of the room, opening the doors and windows and ‘seeing who comes to visit’. When we take ‘the one seat’, we become our own monastery. We create a compassionate space that allows for the arising of all things, including sorrow, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration and happiness.
The focus of investigation in Kelly’s series of artworks is the chair, armchair and couch as physical objects in space. The subject’s position on its own, with another or with other chairs is a conversation about relationships with people, objects and self.
“My interest in this project started many years ago while taking part in a group psychotherapy process,” the artist explains. “The simplicity of the room and the depth of life experienced in that space led me to explore many similar rooms with my camera. Eventually, my focus became the chair as an entity in its own right and a witness to life.
“The exploration extended to chairs beyond the psychotherapeutic rooms into other living rooms. The intimate space of the psychotherapeutic experience opens out into a broader public space and hence into life itself. Eventually the paintbrush took the place of the camera in exploring this phenomenon.”
“A chair or seat is a piece of furniture that holds and supports the human body. In these paintings the body is absent but implied. The intention is to create a pause or resting point for the artist and the viewer. The gallery, not unlike the secular church, stands as a temple between life and art.”
Mary A Kelly lives and works in Co Wicklow. She has worked extensively with lens-based mediums and installation, as well as paint. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including in New York, Chicago, Paris, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and Brussels.
She is the recipient of many awards, including Irish American Arts Award in New York (2006). She completed a degree in psychology and philosophy in UCD in 1977, and later fine art and film degrees from the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, as well as an MA in Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design. She is currently shortlisted for the Royal College of Surgeons Art Award in conjunction with the Irish Times, as part of the RHA Annual.
The Westport College of Further Education Show will be opened by Hannah King at 7pm this Thursday. It features works from Angel Rice, Susan Clarke, Leah Bernstein, Hannah King, Ann Glennon, Daniel Gibbs, Mark Nute, Rosie Norton, Jordan Moran, John Izzard, Shane O’Donnell, Dara Power, Elise Chupin, Jan Campbell and Katherine Doran.
Both exhibitions will run at the Custom House Studios Gallery, Westport Quay, until June 30. The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays, 1pm to 4.30pm.