William McKeown – a conversation

Kerlin Gallery in association with MA Art in the Contemporary World (NCAD,

Caroline Hancock in conversation with Isabel Nolan

Thursday 1 March, 5 – 6 pm, at the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
Doors Close at 4.50 sharp

The talk will be followed by the opening of A Room by Willie McKeown

William McKeown, was born in Tyrone, 1962, and was living and working in Edinburgh at the time of his death on October 25, 2011. In the 16 years since he first exhibited at the Kerlin Gallery, William McKeown developed a body of work that has had a radical and fundamental effect on our understanding of the age-old relationship of art to nature. The foundation of McKeown’s work and life was his belief in the primacy of feeling. His paintings took on the guise of objective minimalism and the monochrome, but presented us with so much more; nature as something real, tangible, all around us, to be touched and felt.

Through very subtle gradation of tone, a highly refined use of colour, and his enchanting, ‘room’ installations, McKeown created moments of exquisite beauty and bliss. He steered our attention not to the distant sky but to the air around us, to the openness of nature, the feeling of our emergence into light and our proximity to the infinite.

Caroline Hancock is an independent curator, writer and editor based in Paris. Recent exhibitions include De l’√©mergence du Ph√©nix, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris which as the last exhibition William McKeown worked on. In 2008, she was awarded the Joanna Drew Travel Bursary to travel to Algeria and is currently researching related exhibition projects and exchanges. In recent years Hancock has worked on various exhibitions in public institutions including the Centre Pompidou, Tate Modern, The Hayward Gallery and The Irish Museum of Modern Art where she worked as curator on William McKeown’s 2009 exhibition and edited the accompanying book.

Isabel Nolan is an artist living and working in Dublin. She has written a number of monographs on Irish artists the first of which was William McKeown ‘the sky begins at our feet’ which was published on the occasion of his solo show at Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast in 2002. This was the first exhibition to feature a room installation similar to that recreated in this exhibition. Nolan’s solo exhibition ‘a hole into the future’ is currently on show at Musee d’Art Moderne e St Etienne Metropole.

1 Comment

  1. I knew William James McKeown from September 1980. He was my next door neighbour in halls of residence in Connaught Hall, London. I knew him very well. I considered him, rarely, a friend.
    He confided in me about his work in monochromes. He felt embarrassed about it because we had discussed this 20 years before and the argument was not made.
    We discussed this at length some years ago and still he was embarrassed. I told him not to be and that I was proud of his work. He did not believe me.
    I have lost a dear friend.

    I will miss his great company.

    Guy R Sharp

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