KEVIN KILLEN DISCUSSES THE WORK HE MADE FOR THE EXHIBITON ‘CERTAIN MOMENTS’ AT UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER GALLERY (5 MARCH – 2 APRIL), WHICH TOOK PLACE DURING THE ULSTER UNIVERSITY FESTIVAL OF ART AND DESIGN.
My interest in working with neon started during my time at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College (1996 –1999). I’d moved to a busy college town from the countryside, so I really noticed the continuous flow of traffic and especially the noise and lights that came into my student house at night. I experimented with ways to capture passing moments, by visualising the nocturnal sounds and lights that invaded my space. Neon seemed an ideal medium to do so. It processes an ability to encompass both speed and stillness. Likewise neon light can be either quietly seductive or loud and overwhelming – and it has strong links with pop culture, glamour and advertising.
During and after my studies I was reliant on getting neon pieces fabricated by industrial makers. As a consequence, I did feel I was missing out on a proper understanding of the full scope of the medium in both practical and theoretical terms. I’d found that when dealing with neon workshops, the available options were often both expensive and restricted. The commercial makers always came up with barriers to making the pieces I really wanted to make.