A new exhibition of camera-less photography by Paul Kenny will include recent works from his series Seaworks and O'Hanami - re-imaginings of objects found along the shoreline and forest floors of Great Britain.
The concept for ‘Seaworks’ arose whilst Kenny was scouring a beach in Mayo, Ireland, in 2000.
He stumbled upon a 7UP bottle with a message inside that had been washed up on the shore.
The bottle had taken seven years to cross the Atlantic from Fado Island, off Newfoundland, and was covered in thousands of scratches that had been left by the tide, rocks and barnacles whilst at sea.
Inspired by the idea of nature leaving its mark on the man-made object, Kenny started cutting up bottles to create his works.
Working without a camera, Kenny creates small plates or slides laden with objects found on his wanderings – leaves, flowers, shells and rocks.
Each plate is then scanned to produce abstract large-scale photographs rich with opalescent colours, which take on the form of imagined landscapes.
Kenny’s ‘O Hanami’ series is named after the Japanese festival that celebrates the few short days of cherry blossom blooms before they are swept away by the wind.
“I sought out beauty and fragility in the scraps of gathered material, mindful of my concerns about the landscape and the scars and marks left by man as the land is ordered and shaped, clipped and manicured,” Kenny says of the series.
Born in 1951, Paul Kenny grew up on a council estate in Salford, He was encouraged by his father to take up drawing to provide an alternative to a career in manual labour.
Whilst studying fine art in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Kenny began to appreciate the Northumbrian coastline, previously only having seen the beaches at Blackpool and Southport.
At art school, Kenny came under the influence of American Modernist photographers Minor White and Paul Strand, after seeing their work published in Creative Camera magazine.
His early work consisted of small, detailed still life photographs of beaches. Keen to experiment, he began splashing images with seawater. He always used water taken from the location of the photograph – realising that different kinds of exposure and erosion changed the appearance of the image.
Paul Kenny’s Seaworks and O’Hanami is exhibited at Beetles + Huxley Gallery, 3-5 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4DE, from 22 June – 16 July 2016. More information available here.