The second solo exhibition at the gallery of Manchester born, Basel based artist Clare Kenny. Clare Kenny works with a variety of materials such as found objects and building materials, neon and photography where reality and representation are explored.
‘Enough rope to hang ‘emselves’ comes from a larger body of work that will be shown in her hometown, Rochdale, Greater Manchester; in her first solo institutional exhibition in the UK in 2017 at Touchstones. The works in the exhibition at VITRINE and later at Touchstones respond to each space, their individual environments and the artist’s recollections of her home county. Through subtle gestures and assemblages, Kenny adapts a story, translating a new narrative, reflecting concerns of the nebulous divide between fact and fiction.
Informed by personal viewpoints and experiences, especially her upbringing and family history, Kenny often toys with notions that relate heavily on a wider level to many people’s lives, where shared histories is a recurring theme throughout Kenny’s practice. For ‘Enough rope to hang ‘emselves’, Kenny takes a family story regarding her grandmother, who spent much of her life working in a rope factory, as the catalyst of constructing an installation and a body of work. Addressing her northern england upbringings, memories of home and the common experiences of working class families since the industrial revolution during the 1900’s, Kenny devises a multi-layered installation juxtaposing materials of poorer and higher values and adopting methods often associated with the domestic.
Following the first World War, the rope factory and many other industries fell into decline and poverty ensued; prompting a depression in social and economic conditions. As with most working class people of Kenny’s grandmother’s generation, she hoped for better things for her child and encouraged Kenny’s mother to achieve something more.
Aspirations of the working class and their determination to better themselves is something Kenny often references within her own work, especially within ‘Enough rope to hang ‘emselves’. A neon washing line is erected across the entirety of the 16-metre vitrine where a series of bronze and marblised sculptural works sit amongst it, replicating the washing lines strung across gardens, ginnels or other available spaces. Addressing personal affiliations with Northern England is inherent, by carefully highlighting the use of domestic objects and use of materials, Kenny transforms them into objects of high esteem, focussing on shared visual memories and aesthetics of aspiration, something of which Kenny feels is lacking in contemporary art.
- Clare Kenny, Give em enough rope (detail), 2011. Image courtesy of VITRINE and the artist