Sharon Kelly (b.1960)

Counterweight II, 2021

Sharon Kelly lives and works in Belfast; she gained a Master’s in Fine Art from the University of Ulster in 1989. Kelly’s practice takes the intersections between art, life, health and sport, and explores ideas of the synergy between mind and body. Her work encompasses a variety of media including drawing, installation, sculpture and moving image. She has collaborated with poets, writers, dancers and choreographers and in 2017 created set designs for Landscapes of Loss a multimedia dance production, for Maiden Voyage Dance. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is held in public and private collections in Northern Ireland and further afield. In 2020, she was awarded the prestigious Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellowship at The British School at Rome.

Kelly’s current work deals with the potentially unsettling confrontation of the fragmented, broken body. Counterweight II is part of a series which focuses on the theme of the resilience of the body and mind. Centring on the torso, it references supports used both in sporting and medical contexts, such as bandages, slings and here, the hand wrappings of boxers. This body of work is inspired by research Kelly has undertaken into historical human anatomy collections and from her observations of Etruscan sculpture, during her fellowship at the British School at Rome. This piece combines allusions to the ancient practice of swaddling the body in linen cloths, the cutting marks of a dressmaker’s pattern and first-aid bandaging instructions. It features a Roman steelyard with counterweight, and it is from this concept that the title originates. It speaks to the idea of internal and external impacts, weights, burdens and the effects of trauma.