This website gives a brief introduction to the studio practice of artist and social activist William Kelly.
It briefly introduces the viewer to his work as a painter, draughtsman, sculptor, printmaker and to selected collaborations in theatre, landscape design and architecture. Professor Ricardo Viera speaks of Kelly’s work “moving seamlessly” between the studio and the wider world. As such his work is equally regarded in the art world and in that juncture where human rights, social justice, peace and reconciliation come together. In the former context his work is often mentioned in relation to that of fellow artist predecessors such as Hesse, Kollwitz, Tolstoy, Goya and Picasso while in the second his ideals are often associated he intentions of socially aware activists such as Hanna Arendt, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Daniel Berrigan, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“His process of weaving art through his life and community suggests his homage to the modus vivendi of past ethical engineers such as Leo Tolstoy, Hermann Hesse and Mohandas Gandhi. These men, like Kelly, were also curious about the physiognomy of their times and motivated to articulate a better way of being human”.
Anna Clabburn, “William Kelly – A shot at the Dark”, from the catalogue A Contemporary Tragedy: An Exhibition by William Kelly (1993) Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Melbourne, Australia.
“There are clues to his passion for both the ‘fictional’ world of the canvas and the ‘real’ world of urban spaces. Kelly appears to move between them with equanimity”.
Professor Ricardo Viera, from the catalogue William Kelly: Works in Collaboration (1990) Lehigh University Art Museum, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA.
"In the tradition of artists like Kathe Kollwitz, Goya and Picasso, writers like Tolstoy and Hermann Hesse, and humanists like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Kelly encourages his audience to reflect on the issue of violence and the possibilities for action against it."
Julia Clinger, The Chautauquan, New York, 1994
"His processes are interrogative, non-judgemental, juxtaposed, discontinuous. He offers a vast and complex narrative capable of many useful readings: a lively interaction between timeless moral philosophy and contemporary thought."
Jenny Zimmer, for catalogue, of William Kelly's exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, Australia
“William Kelly explores human space and human images…and the poetry of markmaking.”
Janet McKenzie, ‘William Kelly: Artist as Peacemaker.’ In Studio International, London, Autumn, 2008
“Kelly’s new work at the State Library of Victoria suspended above the domed La Trobe Reading Room continues his artistic modus operandi of dialogue and a commitment to humanist principles while also asking us to consider the reality of our collective failure…”
Dr. Vincent Alessi, Introduction to the installation of “Peace or War/The Big Picture, Melbourne, 2016