Anna McNay

Artist Profile: Aileen Kelly


Artist Profile: Aileen Kelly

Aileen Kelly’s works are processual. Everything is in a
state of becoming – or maybe unbecoming.
Her found objects – appropriated and adapted, displaced and dismantled, stratified
and suspended. One mattress with its covering peeled off, coated in a shabby,
careworn felt; another exploded with its springs on show, a jack-in-the-box, a
ribcage, somehow exposed, raw and vulnerable, yet strong and offering support –
stripped down to discover what is inside: the essence and the essential.

Her Sculpture Drawings are like blueprints: tentative
structures made out of fabric-wrapped posts in fragile, midway states. Neither
one thing nor the other, they quiver and quaver, resting like a lean-to,
reaching like a sapling. Frames or portals, leading from the past to the future,
circumventing the present. They carry a sense of the familiar, yet are
uncannily dissociated. Memorials to something lost, but to what? Feminine
somehow, both in their fabrication and tentative presence, their silence and
unimposing stance. They offer mere suggestions, nothing is concrete, but every
gesture is made with intent.

Kelly’s Stitch Drawings speak in the same tone. Reincarnating
images of trauma, stitched on to cloth or paper, showing tangled threads,
fractured lines and obliterated identities. Some are projected up large on to
white walls, shadowing down upon us, heavy yet weightless. Incomplete outlines,
their souls might seem to drain away into the void. Worked up from specific
media images, they could, nonetheless, be any child, any parent, any loved one.
‘Do I have the right?’ Kelly muses, visibly concerned at her trespassing into
someone else’s private realm, private grief. But, as a mother, she grieves for
the loss of others, memorialising one, memorialising many.

Saving every remnant, Kelly has recently turned to collage
and printmaking, recycling scraps and cut offs, once again breathing new life
into other people’s waste materials. For her, nothing is without worth. Everything
offers a haunting reminder of the transience of existence, a subtle metaphor
for the fragility of structures upon which we rely. Everything will have its
turn once again in the greater process known as life.

Artist’s website: 


All © the artist

Let Down  


180cm x 105cm  

Upholstered wood in pinstripe fabric, fabric lengths



150cm x 200cm

Fabric wall drawing with black pinstripe cloth



40cm x 30cm  

Linen, pinstripe fabric, cotton stitch