A ONE-night display of ceramics by a local artist last week was just the latest use of Woodbine Books in Kilcullen as a venue for arts, music and theatrical presentations. Other events over a two week period included no less than three book launches, one of them for children, another a local memoir, and the launch of a calendar by the local photography club.
A strong turnout of art lovers, family and friends gave Lesley Kelly’s ceramics event in Woodbine Books a real buzz. It was also a first for the popular Cross and Passion College teacher — the first time she had a solo exhibition in her home town of Kilcullen.
“It has taken me out of my comfort zone,” she said before the event kicked off. “I’m well used to being part of group shows, and even to have other people talking about my work at them. This is different, but perhaps I’ve been hiding my work too long, so it’s nice to push it out there and share it.” Lesley says she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t doing something artistic and she can’t imagine not having art in her life. “It’s just a natural thing that I do,” she says. “It just makes me who I am.”
She describes her ceramics works as ‘functional and connecting’. “I see them as a platform for a cultural connection between me, the maker, and the viewer. Art is only good when it is shared, and each of the pieces has its own personality, which shines through from under the glaze.”
She was particularly happy to have the event in Woodbine Books. “It’s the bookshop that I love, and art and books go hand in hand together.”
The number of red dots on the pieces by the end of the evening showed that it was a very successful undertaking, and also that there will likely be lots of Lesley Kelly pieces wrapped as presents around Kilcullen this Christmas.
Lesley is a Visual Art teacher at CPC and is an experienced ceramic artist now well established in the arts and crafts industry.
She earned a Master of Arts focused in Ceramic Design from the National College of Art & Design and specialises in developing partnership-in-education programmes that give students an opportunity to promote their art work to a wider community.
She also established the CPC Photography Club in 2017, and worked with students to develop their skills across a range of themes with even the simplest camera equipment. This has resulted in exhibitions of the students’ work both in the college and at venues in Kilcullen itself.
Lesley previously taught at Curragh Post Primary School; Clonaslee College in Co Laois; St Dominic’s College in Cabra, Dublin; and in a number of other schools, and was a visiting lecturer in 3D Construction at the NCAD.
She says teaching and her art are complementary. “I bring pieces from my studio into the class and similarly students show me their own work. I always learn something myself from them.”
In 2010 Lesley was selected by the Crafts Council of Ireland to participate on their education panel for CRAFTed — the Learning Skills for Life, Primary Schools Programme.