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James Kelly creates film and sculptural objects that are concerned with non-waking realities and especially explore a rare type of dream in which he feels the taste and flavour from another reality that seems external to his own subconscious. Through forms of magical thinking, the making of tools, shrines and charged objects, reminiscent of game pieces, glyph-like alphabet forms or ritual items, release is sought from the mundane. Tools he views not just as extensions of the body to facilitate a certain task but items charged by their maker’s intention and their inherent implied purpose, imbued with a certain presence by their user’s actions; a history recorded upon worn surfaces.

He follows an idea that indirect and absurd acts can allow for lateral problem solving and subconscious thought processing. Agreeing and inspired with Derek Jarman's assessment that film is an inherently magical medium, transforming matter into light, James uses Super 8, photography and video as a thought processing vehicle.

James' video works, at times involving these sculptural forms, address the treatment of rural landscapes as a resource rather than a symbiotic companion, the contrast between what is considered natural with our differing concepts of ‘nature’, and the vertical layering of histories in particular places. They capture acts and performances and rituals, irrational or inscrutable, carried out within visions of human-effected landscapes.

James Kelly

Born in Dublin 1980, James Kelly completed a BA Fine Art at University College Falmouth in 2010 and an MFA in Sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art, graduating in 2014. From his BA he was awarded the Wilhemina Barnes-Graham Travel to Italy Award during which, while walking 300km from Siena to Rome, he created digital work addressing pilgrimage, harvest and landscape. Following the MFA James was recipient of the Lands Securities Award, providing a year’s studio with Bow Arts in London.

Exhibitions and screenings include Featherheads and Dreamers, The Model, Sligo 2020 and 2016, being selected by Adam Chodzko for a group show at LIMBO, Margate 2015 and by Lisa Milroy for the Creekside Open, London 2015, Alchemy Film Festival, Hawick 2014, Household Festival, Belfast 2012, and Late at Tate “Fieldclub” at Tate St Ives 2011. And two commissioned artist's films, for the Korean Cultural Centre, London 2014 and by Eleanor Flegg for the Hunt Museum, Limerick in 2011

Past Residencies


Landscape, Ecology & Environment Research Residencies