Joe Kelly


Recycling has been a major component part of my critique for nearly 15 years. Liberating materials from skips IS a noble exercise. Effectively, I have been attempting to relieve, as much as I could, the pressure on the landfills and incinerators and save myself a few quid. I am constantly investigating how I can re-use the things I find, that others leave behind. Underground, overground. Womble-ing free. In all seriousness, this approach to the found object is the most rewarding technique I have explored to date. Instead of buying the materials to realise a concept, I work in reverse, developing ideas to do justice to the materials. Thus, I am forced to be innovative and ingenious, sensitive to the materials and responsive to their historical connotations. Occasionally, the concept arrives first and the materials can be found to satisfy the idea. Often discovering the structural properties of the various materials, what you can and can’t make them do. My sculptures tackle, with a large dose of irreverent humour and obsurdity, issues of war, conflict, climate change, feckless consumerism, the neo-imperial rape of natural resources and the sedentary lifestyle we all seem to aspire to. When I was a lot younger, fresh out of University, I was naive and idealistic. I thought I could make a difference with my ‘art-message’.

Now I’m just a bitter cynic who still, maybe foolishly, tries to lobby others to wake up to the problems we face as a species and the undeniable ramifications our actions have on the planet.

“The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel….”
D.B.Kuspit, ‘Signs of Psyche in Modern and Post-Modern art’, “Tart wit, Wise Humour”
Cambridge University Press, 1993


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