Lucy McKenna is a Kilkenny artist working in multimedia, including painting, drawing, film, photography and installation. The Darker Wood is an installation for Kilkenny Arts Festival which will be in KIlkenny Castle Park and is based on work she undertook on Toronto Island, Canada in 2010. It draws on the history of that island and on fairytales. I can't imaging a better setting for her work than the Castle. These images (courtesy of the artist) are sections of the preparation in her studio. From August 5-August 14
As I am still facinated by all things creative at the moment I met Lucy online for an interview about herself and her hopes. I was attracted by her amazing photographs and her upbeat tone about art. Looking forward to seing what she does in the Castle.
What initially drew you to become a professional artist and are you glad of that decision now?
Well I have been creating art since I was small, so it was a natural progression to become an artist. I think it was just in me. I don't think it was really a conscious decision until I was older and began submitting my work to exhibitions and residencies and I realised I could so this professionally and make my career in it.
How would you describe your work?
I use multi media in my work; drawing, painting, photography, installation and video. So using these mediums I try to investigate something I am interested in, whether it is an idea or a story, and visually explain how I see it or how it makes me feel. Over time I have come to realize that my work seems to always have some element of magic, the supernatural, or spiritual, and attaching these to organic or physical elements somehow. My work is very motivated by native culture, folklore and mythology sometimes mixed with scientific subjects like particle physics or astronomy.
You have done a lot of travel through your work how is that important to you?
I have undertaken three international residencies as part of my practice so far, and these have had an immeasurable effect on my work. Living in a new environment where I am learning about a new language, culture, landscape, way of life, folklore, everything… it gives a huge momentum to my work. It has also been a fantastic way to meet new artists, collaborate with them and learn new techniques. I have made friends for life on each of the residencies I have done, so I can't promote their importance enough. I hope to undertake more residencies in the future.
What kind of process do you use on an everyday basis to stay inspired?
It can be hard to find inspiration all the time, as some days life takes over and you have no time to create art. But I try to stay focused and always have some creative project ongoing which I can chip away at. Some work is quite immediate, like drawing or painting, and other pieces take a longer time. For example a video piece may take months to finish from the time you shoot the film through getting it developed, and editing it, or adding audio. I always make sure I have something to work on.
Congratulations on the Artlinks Bursary? How will it help your work?
Thank you, I am absolutely thrilled to have won the Bursary, Artlinks is a fantastic organization. It has made a huge difference to my practice for the coming year, as I will not have such a large weight of debt from making new work, and it will enable me to make new work sooner. More immediately it will make a huge difference to the piece which I have been working on for the Kilkenny Arts Festival.
What have you got in store for Kilkenny?
For the Festival I will be installing up to 70 pieces of small sculpture in a location in Kilkenny Castle Park. These sculptures are made from sheets of wood and they are based on a piece I developed on my most recent residency in Canada. They incorporate a pattern or branches and hands, inspired by a Brothers Grimm story called 'The Juniper Tree'. The pieces will be hanging from the trees in one particular spot, so keep your eyes peeled for them!
For further information on Artlinks go to www.artlinks.ie