High Artmaking with Primary School Supplies – Laura E Kennedy

The art that has always excited Kennedy the most is that which fuses opposites in an unexpected visual harmony. With this exhibition, she wanted to amplify the paradox of using childish materials to convey adult concepts and to challenge the allocation of value and significance in the Western Canon. To pursue this, she elected to directly appropriate a series of birds from a universally revered era of “High Art”, the still life paintings of the Flemish Baroque Masters. But also to do so using exclusively the materials of coloured pencils and chalkboard paint, as these mediums are far more readily associated with primary school educational supplies than with those deemed acceptable for creating high art.

Kennedy wanted to challenge the accepted separation between the artwork and the surrounding picture frame. Large ornate frames were typical for European Baroque works as a way to amplify their grandeur and significance. As with her previous series, she has again extended the drawing from beyond the accepted perimeter and into the space generally reserved for exclusively the frame.

As subjects in still life paintings, animals are rarely given an identity beyond their classified type as detailed in their visual appearance. The average viewer rarely ponders their story in comparison to human subjects. So as an intentionally humorous expression of this notion each animal featured has been given both a name and a narrative title that conveys their fictional emotional feelings on being the subject of the work. So as to reinforce the notion of pomposity, each of the names has been drawn from either the Greek Gods or Shakespearean characters as two of the founding Western cultural influences. The titles also allowed Kennedy to playfully acknowledge issues that she is passionate about, including feminism and animal welfare and she took great delight in crafting each of them.

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