Book Review by Santosh Korthiwada
It gets challenging to write a book review, after knowing very well that Professor Francis Hodson wrote the foreword for Paul Kenny’s marvelous photobook Seaworks. In the context of the history of photography, critical art theory, contemporary photographic practices, plus artist’s point of view, all that needs to be said has been said. What remains is reviewing the book as a personal reflection.
Blue Mitchell shipped me Seaworks a few months ago and it has been sitting on my desk, not leaving my sight since then. I kept seeing the photographs, again and again, kept imagining stories, over and over. Paul Kenny’s work is evidence of technical perfection, unique vision, sincere concern for ecology, and artistic command, all of which inspire me to peel every layer and put them back together as a synthesis. Every time I opened the book, 13th-century Sufi poet Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi’s words rang in my head. In rough translation:
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
With her never-ending kindness and patience, mother nature tolerates our naivety and arrogance. She frantically looks for the truly committed and rarely finds artists like Paul to collaborate with. Nature’s language is incredibly complicated to understand, from the subatomic to cosmic, but these photographs artistically break it down for us. Not to disrespectfully simplify it to the viewer, but to get them a step closer.
Like a peaceful walk on a celestial beach, Paul Kenny’s Seaworks silently took me very consciously deep. The “seeing” remains. ♦
‘The work, building on themes developed over thirty-five years, tries to find the awe-inspiring in that which is easily passed by. It contains issues of fragility, beauty, and transience in the landscape: marks and scars left by man and the potential threat to the few remaining areas of wilderness. Looking at the micro and thinking about the macro, I aim for each print to be a beautiful, irresistible, thought-provoking object.’ – Paul Kenny
Born and educated in Salford, in the Northwest of England, Paul Kenny completed his Fine Arts Degree at Newcastle upon Tyne in 1975.
In 2004 he returned to North Northumberland where he now lives and works not far from Holy Island with his wife Margaret.
He has traveled to work in Japan, France, and Ireland but the main focus in developing his unique vision is the remote beaches of Wester Ross in north-west Scotland and the Western fringes of the outlying Islands.
In 2000 he was made a Fellow of the Ballinglen Arts Foundation and now spends time annually at their facility in North West Mayo, Eire.
He has work in some major public and private collections including Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, the National Photography Collection, Bradford and the National Gallery of Scotland.
Paul Kenny is represented by the Beetles & Huxley Gallery, London