Sinead was the winner of 2013 Talbot Gallery Studio’s Most Promising Graduate Award and this show marks the culmination of her residency. The award grants one student the use of a studio space above the gallery for eleven months and a solo exhibition at the end of this term. Moreover it provides the recent college graduate with a support system and the opportunity to observe how more established artists work and earn a living by placing them in a professional creative environment. The closing of the exhibition will be marked by handing over the keys of the studio to the winner of the Most Promising Graduate Award 2014.
“My process would be to start off looking and then drawing and making shapes. I would then stop and leave it alone. I would move on and create sculptural forms that I could later apply to the body. This way I could simply play with them. I didn’t want to make the forms in relation to the body but apply them to the body afterwards.”
Sinead Onora Kennedy’s focus in her graduate exhibition was fashion and her sculpture and drawing practice is strongly influenced by notions of perception of figure and self. Her impecable technical skill is married to a very considered contemporary art making practice.
Her work explores self-perception in a negative sense, touching on themes such as anxiety, distorted body image, and identity. She is interested in the inseparable connection between food and the body, the matter of disconnect between mind and body, and the completely irrational thought process that is associated with this subject.
The emphasis on presentation as a central aspect of a woman’s existence makes her extremely self-conscious. It demands that she occupy herself with a self-image that others will find pleasing and attractive, as our bodies are seen as an expression of our inner selves. She must observe and evaluate herself. Since women are taught to see themselves from the outside as candidates for men, they become prey to the huge fashion and diet industries that first set up the ideal images and then exhort women to meet them. To be thin is to be perceived as beautiful, disciplined and even moral. Fat is equated with laziness, slovenliness, and a lack of regard for oneself and a deficiency of self-control.
Sinead is interested in what we perceive as ugly. Aristotle stated that the beautiful object is one which has the structure of an object, internally it exhibits coherence, and externally it establishes a sharp boundary between itself and the world. Therefore the ugly object is one in which the inside demonstrates that it is larger than its outside, or its representation (contamination). In this case it is out of place. It has passed some boundary, limit or threshold into space where it should not be. Fat, both solid as lard, and liquid as oil epitomise ugliness because they are uncontained by surface or boundaries. Its surface or boundary is constantly changing as it spreads. As it spreads it leaves a trace: a sticky contamination of the surfaces it has passed over. Its edge is undistinguishable from the rest of it. The surface is indistinguishable from what it should contain.
The artist is exploring the concept that people exist twice, both as themselves and as representations of themselves. People exist as their thoughts and feelings by using their bodies as containers, and exist again as their actual appearance, the image we create to face the world.