Sculpture in the City is back for its 7th year running, filling the square mile with colour and culture. We had a chat with exhibitor and visual artist, Kevin Killen about sparks and lightbulb moments.
What sparks your creativity?
I find lots of inspirations in the small day-to-day moments; the patterns people make when they move in and around their landscapes, the connections points where peoples’ paths cross over each other. “Sparks” is an apt way of describing how I’m inspired, as light is life to me and my work attempts to translate sectors of “life” that fascinate me into neon light sculptures. My sculptures offer a chance to peer into unseen patterns and glimpse transitory movements captured in light. Different bodies of work have attempted to capture time, space and movements: ranging from works that chart the life of a city through a journey in light, to the mundane and monotonous repetitive actions involved in housework.
Your work toys with neon light to capture moments, what drew you to this?
The neon light work originally comes from my time at college, when I moved to a busy college town from the rural Seaforde countryside. I noticed the continuous flow of traffic and how the noise and lights came into my student house at night time and I began to experiment with how I could visualise the sounds and lights invading my space, capturing the passing moments in time. Over time my interests have grown to include capturing the movements of dancers in one series, to investigating time and motion studies and the nature of repetitive movements in another.
How do you see the role of art in public space?
Any art in the public space needs thoughtful commissioning and planning. Art is based on communication, context and discussion. Art that asks the public to look, think and consider, will enlighten the viewer and that is an important role for art in public spaces. The beauty of public art is that it is accessible - not everyone is comfortable going into a gallery. I recently had a piece of mine “Tipping Point” included in Sculpture in the City, which is a perfect example of public art that enhances the city.
If you could install your work anywhere in London, where would it be?
Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square: I am drawn to the meticulous planning and execution of the artworks that have taken up residence; I love the transient nature of the displayed artwork too. My works tend to be site-specific and work with the habitat.
What would you like to make that you haven’t made so far?
I would like to work with a dance company like the Royal Ballet, initially photo-documenting Swan Lake in light drawings and translating the dancers movements into a neon kinetic light installation. Previously, I made sculpture working with one dancer, but the multitude of fluid movements found in a ballet would be such a challenge to translate.
What's been the best advice given to you as an artist?
As an artist, sometimes there can feel like too many opportunities, but not all of them are worth having. You need to know what you want out of your career, so having some form of future plan is helpful. Every step you take should be getting you closer to your goals, take your time and only choose things that move you forwards. Other than that, be mindful of your cash flow as very few artists manage without some alternative means to support their practice.