29 January, 2017
Basel-based, UK-born artist Clare Kenny works across a range of materials such as found objects, building materials, neon and photography. Her work explores the fine line between reality and representation, drawing from personal and collective memory to adapt loose narratives that skirt the line between fact and fiction.
For her current solo exhibition ‘Enough rope to hang ‘emselves’ at VITRINE, London, Kenny has devised an installation of wallpaper, neon and sculpture that responds directly to the space. Addressing her northern England upbringings, memories of home and the common experiences of working class families since the industrial revolution, Kenny uses subtle material gestures to weave together threads of history and reminiscence.
The works in ‘Enough rope to hang ‘emselves’ are taken from a larger body of work that will be shown at Touchstones, Rochdale, Greater Manchester in her first institutional solo exhibition in the UK later this year. We talk to Clare Kenny about her work and influences.
What is the relationship between your exhibition at Vitrine and your upcoming exhibition in your hometown at Rochdale? How have you adapted the body of work to the individual spaces?
The work the exhibition VITRINE was made directly for the space – it responds to the properties of the gallery, its environment and my memories of growing up in the UK. The wallpaper is made to measure for VITRINE’s space, but the other pieces – the sculptures and neons – could be re-incorporated into a different space. This in turn would create a different dialogue between the work and its new environment. When these works are together in this space they create a particular environment. When they go on to Touchstones, they will combine with other elements and their new environment to create a different narrative.
How do you feel your practice has changed and evolved over time? What impact does location have on that?
Living in different places and countries has a stark impact on the human condition we must learn to adapt and in some cases to assimilate into the new environment, to avoid conflict and to feel settled. At different times in my life I have lived in different countries and I wonder if I had switched those times and countries around how different my work would be. If I was living in Barcelona now as I did in my late twenties it would have no doubt influenced my work in a completely different way to my life now living in Basel.
What is your working method? How much is planned beforehand versus process-led experimentation?
My work is generally process driven. The materials I use tend to have a relationship to my life and memories. These are examined and experimented with, so both material and memory come together to create works.
Where do you go to for inspiration? Who do you enjoy looking at and how does that influence your work?
Life is the most appropriate answer here – I absorb information from everywhere. Not especially by looking at other artist’s works, although I would hasten to say I love looking at art in person, far more than in images. The bodily experience of being in space with art I find inspirational.
What would you like to work on in the future?
At the moment I have two shows coming up both in very exciting buildings where I can respond to their unique historical features and the more recent interventions including bad renovations, which I am pretty interested in working with, as they themselves form part of the historic fabric of theses bulidings.
‘Enough rope to hang ‘emselves’ continues until 4 February at VITRINE, London.
Images courtesy of VITRINE. Photographer: Jonathan Bassett.