Bright-Minded Home – April 2014


Q+A with artist Mark Kelly on found objects and fire


Belfast artist Mark Kelly attended Massachusetts College of Art and is part owner of Belfast’s Åarh?s Gallery, where his work is on display. He is constantly in the process of drawing, assembling things, destroying things, taking photographs, and—always—collecting found objects.

Q: When and why did you start using found objects?

A: I started collecting found objects as a kid, long before I used them as art-making materials; I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder. Found objects bring a history with them that you can’t create in the studio. The patinas, rips, holes, stains—the wear and tear an object accumulates during its lifetime makes it interesting to me. Working with these objects helps me look at life in a more positive way: all the stuff we endure as human beings—good and bad—makes us who we are.

Q: How does your work with fire factor into this?

A: I became inspired to work with fire when collecting used fireworks. I would deconstruct them and use the burned paper in collage. In the same way that I repurpose found materials, I try to find new life in something that has run its course with its original intent. For example, I’ve made drawings using the ash of previous drawings that I’ve burned.

Q: In what ways do you live sustainably at home or in the studio?

A: Everything gets reused or repurposed. Fallen tree limbs in my yard become sculpture, cereal boxes become stencils, tea-bag wrappers become notepaper. There is potential in every little scrap—you just have to think creatively to find what that is. It’s alchemy.  

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