O Hanami – A Celebration of Transient Beauty
‘O Hanami – The Celebration Of Transient Beauty’ ties together several threads of Paul Kenny’s work from 1995 through to previously unseen images made in 2018. The unifying core is work made with scraps of natural material from his garden and the hedgerows around his home. This exhibition coincides with the publication of Paul’s new book O Hanami, published by Kozu Books. The foreword for the book is by Francis Hodgson.
‘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
O Hanami - A Celebration of Transient Beauty
Between 1995 and 1999 I made a large series of works utilising leaves picked up on walks in Scorton Woods, Lancashire. I called the work ‘Leaving’, and it formed part of my first ever London show in 1998.
At the time, I remember making a conscious decision to stop producing the leaf imagery as I single-mindedly pursued seashore based work, but the ideas and concerns remained with me.
I recently spent some time looking at the ‘Leaving’ prints and was quickly reminded of their beauty and fragility. It also highlighted how much my work has moved on in relation to the media, techniques, technologies and processes I now use, while still retaining a direct line to the ideas, concerns and motifs of that early work.
This coincided with a very harsh winter in Northumberland. We were completely snowed in for over three weeks around Christmas 2010 and I was forced to stick close to home – trips to the beach were out of the question for about a month. This resulted in my field of vision being restricted; I was forced to work with the world around my feet. Teasing some scraps of natural material from under the snow or from the ice in the frozen garden pond, I began making a new body of work which became the O Hanami series.
He has travelled 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 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, the National Gallery of Scotland and the V&A, London.