21st Apr 2018
Made from both the land and the sea, Kenny’s work confronts issues of fragility and impermanence in the landscape, illustrating, as he has said, how “man’s hand is scratching away at remaining areas of wilderness.” The concept of his Seaworks series arose whilst he was scouring a beach in Mayo, Ireland. He found a 7UP bottle with a message inside that had been washed up on the shore. The bottle had taken seven years to cross the Atlantic from Fado Island, off Newfoundland. Kenny noticed that the bottle was covered in thousands of scratches that had been left by the tide, rocks and barnacles whilst it was at sea. Inspired by the idea of the landscape leaving its mark on the man-made object, Kenny started cutting up bottles to create images. Scouring the beaches between Holy Island and Berwick upon Tweed in his native Northumberland, he collects objects discarded by the sea, taking them back to his studio to transfigure into esoteric, abstract images.
On close inspection the leaves, flowers, shells and rocks from which Kenny’s images derive are perceivable, but looking from another angle will uncover entire landscapes within the photographs. Alongside the works created from objects found along the shoreline in his Seaworks series, Kenny is undertaking a land-based project called O Hanami. Named after the Japanese festival that celebrates the few short days when they cherry blossom blooms before being swept away by the wind, the series considers the passing of the seasons and the ephemeral beauty found in objects foraged from the forest floor.
This interview coincides with Huxley-Parlous’s exhibition of Paul Kenny’s work, which focuses on his series Seaworks and O’Hanami – re-imaginings of objects found along the shoreline and forest floors of Great Britain.