A virtual exhibition of Frank Kiely’s works inspired by the writings of James Joyce.
From the artist:
To say the least I was not what you would call a star student when I was at school. My main achievement was managing not to get kicked out and sitting my leaving cert, even to fail it. In my final year at school it was discovered that I was severely dyslexic. I was basically a functional illiterate, so understandably back then I had a serious aversion to English literature.
Throughout my life I had the support of my younger sister, Lindara. She always looked beyond my dyslexia and saw me as an intelligent and creative person. She held James Joyce in the highest esteem and repeatedly encouraged me to read Joyce, but back then I simply did not read.
On leaving school I pursued my dream of trying to get into Art College. I may not have been able to spell but I could surely draw pictures. After successive disappointments of not getting offered a place at art college, due to my failed leaving cert, I decided to emigrate to the USA. I left promising my parents that I would continue to work on my portfolio and apply for college the following year.
In America I worked religiously to build up my portfolio. It was here also when I first challenged my dyslexia and began to read. The process was painstakingly slow, I had to look up about every second word, and it took me about a year to finish the book. Soon equipped with a portfolio I was proud of and applying as a mature student, I managed to finally get a place at Art College.
Fast forward five years, it’s 2001 and I’m on a residency in Paris during my MA at the Royal College of Art. My sister is still encouraging me to read James Joyce, though l feel his writings will be beyond me. I discover David Norris & Carl Flint’s Introduction to Joyce. I was attracted to the images that broke up the text and out of curiosity I read it. That was when my interest in James Joyce began.
Later that year on my 27th Birthday my sister gave me Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as a gift , inscribed with:
“I know I have been pushing Joyce on you for a while, hopefully this will be the kind shove AND I will have you converted!!”
I was so taken with Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that I felt compelled to make a series of images on the themes and questions raised in this novel. Joyce wrestled with so many issues about growing up in Ireland that were close to my heart and reminiscent of my experience. But most of all I loved how he did not give answers he just had the courage to pose questions.
Getting started on this project I began my research, first reading more Joyce: Ulysses and Dubliners. Then writers that influenced Joyce, and next thing I’m reading about Joyce’s life and work. This has developed into an enjoyable passion that continues today.