Sharon Kelly: Red-to-Red

7 Apr-26 Nov 2023

The MAC Belfast
Belfast, Northern Ireland BT1 2NJ


The work in this exhibition has been developed over the period of the artist's ACNI Fellowship at the British School at Rome. Kelly originally commenced the residency in January 2020, but this was interrupted by the pandemic. She returned January - March 2023 to complete the Fellowship.

Kelly has taken markers from her observances and encounters from her time in Rome and created work, externally affirmative and universally connective in nature.

Kelly often concentrates on focused bodies of work developed over time in a symbiotic process combining observation, awareness of the body and drawing on experience, feeling and intuition.

Her sensibility to the body and in particular the fragmented body, the torso and broken gesture featured strongly in works created in response to her original residency period and in the intervening three years. With its generative force emanating from personal encounters with severe illness and its aftermath, her work also embraced ideas of liminality and transformation.

In this current work, the colour red has developed as multi-charged, with multi-layered resonances; the residue of a staunched wound; the symbol of blood, the universal force and flow of life; the symbol of bloodshed, sacrifice, often seen in religious depictions.

A marker for warning or impending danger. Red is the colour symbolising authority, or status; generals in the days of the Roman Empire had their bodies painted red to celebrate victory. Red was also the colour of protective amulets. Red may indicate energy, vibrancy - the longest-lasting and most dominant of the colours of the Etruscan fresco wall-paintings. These red figurative images, fragmented over time, depict life, death, and the transitional space.

About the Artist

Sharon Kelly lives and works between her studio in QSS, Belfast and South Armagh. She gained a Master’s in Fine Art from the University of Ulster in 1989. Kelly’s practice takes the intersections between art, life, health and sport, and explores ideas of the synergy between mind and body. Her work encompasses a variety of media including drawing, installation, sculpture and moving image. She has collaborated with poets, writers, dancers and choreographers and in 2017 created set designs for Landscapes of Loss a multimedia dance production, for Maiden Voyage Dance.

In 2022 she was the recipient of The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, New York, USA and in 2020 she commenced the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellowship at The British School at Rome, which she finally completed early 2023. She has been the recipient of numerous Visual Arts Awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, most recently the Artists International Development Fund to participate in a printmaking residency at Frans Masereel Centrum, Belgium later in 2023; The Rowel Friers Perpetual Trophy, Royal Ulster Academy of Art; The Drawing Prize 132nd Royal Academy Exhibition, 2013; The Bass Ireland Award 2001; British Council Award 1999; EV+A Open Award, Adjudicator, Jan Hoet, Belgium 1994; First Prize, ‘Siolru’, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin 1994; Alice Berger-Hammerschlag Trust Travel Award 1991; The Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation, Canada 1990.

Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is held in public and private collections in Northern Ireland and further afield.