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Sea Works - Chris Beetles Gallery

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION of work by Paul Kenny charting his gradual move towards abstraction over the last eight years, Sea Works 2001 – 2009, will be on display at Chris Beetles Gallery from August 10 to August 29, 2009.

As part of this development, the camera itself has become less important in Kenny’s photography, and he has focused his attention on creating his images through darkroom processes alone.

Although his work is unlike any photography that has come before it, it is deeply rooted in photographic tradition and techniques. Using the same camera-less approach of Adam Fuss, Susan Derges, and Gary Fabian-Miller, he builds up his photographic slides by hand, and then creates visual magic in the dark.

Equally crucial is the environment in which the images are created. Kenny has lived and breathed the coastline of the north-east of England for 27 years, and his Sea Works are a love-letter to its sands, strand lines, and shells. He also regularly works in the western isles of Scotland, and the west coast of Ireland.

In using beach-combed flotsam and dried sea-water, Kenny irrevocably links his work to the coastal environment – each photograph is inspired by it, created from it, and aims to highlight its fragility and sometime abuse. In this way Kenny’s pictures are as much about his passion for conserving and enjoying these delicate eco-systems as they are about artistic endeavour.

The exhibition will focus in particular on Kenny’s recent experimentation with dried salt water, the crystals of which form structural patterns and shapes around pebbles, seaweed, and other items found on the beach. The resulting images are staggeringly beautiful, poignant and blur the boundaries between photography, science and conservation.

Speaking about his work, Kenny said:

“The work, building on themes developed over thirty-five years, tries to find the awe-inspiring in that which is easily passed by. It contains issues of fragility, beauty and transience in the landscape: marks and scars left by man and the potential threat to the few remaining areas of wilderness. Looking at the micro and thinking about the macro, I aim for each print to be a beautiful, irresistible, thought provoking object.”

A fully illustrated catalogue will be on sale, and all images will be featured on the Chris Beetles Website

Times: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5.30pm.

Chris Beetles Gallery, 8 & 10 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6QB