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Áine Kelly : Adapting Materials + Practice – a micro commission

INTRODUCTION

Bricks has kindly commissioned me to develop my work for the next couple of months. For the past 5 years my work explored camera-less photographic processes. This includes camera obscura installations, sculptural light prints, and photograms of ice and plants. Many of these works touched on environmental concerns. The method to create these works was hypocritically not very environmentally friendly. I was using numerous photographic chemicals that eventually joined the water system and unrecyclable photographic paper coated in silver. Like many others, living in the age of climate breakdown has brought on a guilt of my environmental impact, that has now seeped itself into my artistic practice.

Photogram (cameraless photograph) of light refracting through a piece of ice.
Light Refraction + Ice I, Silver Gelatin Print, 2019

There are a lot of really great photographers out there who are also questioning the environmental impact of photographic processes and discovering new ways of processing film and paper with safe household ingredients such as cafenol and using natural materials with photographic properties such as chlorophyll prints. Saying that, over lockdown I found it difficult to continue working in my makeshift darkroom in my home studio. There was something about lockdown that triggered a need to shake up my practice and adapt to this new way of life we’re all finding ourselves in.

I’ve been a knitter and occasional sewer for the past 10 years. It’s always been a hobby and never really found its place in my studio. I watched a short documentary about a weaver who lived on Clare Island in Ireland. She sheared the sheep, processed and hand dyed the wool and then weaved it with her floor loom. This slow process appeals to me as it allows a dialogue with natural materials and hand work whilst remaining low impact.

Over the next couple of months, I intend to make new work that confronts the environmental impact of art making. This includes using natural and repurposed materials within a sculptural and textile context. I will be sharing test pieces, sketches and research towards developing my work with this line of thinking here.