Oisin Kelly

Oisin Kelly was born in Dublin. He took night classes in art at NCAD while studying French and Irish at Trinity College. He went on to study sculpture under Henry Moore (1898-1986) at Chelsea Polytehnic in London. He spent time in the Gaeltacht in Connemara which had a formative effect on his art and life leaving with him, a deep affection for the people and land of West of Ireland. Also of influence was his time in Frankfurt School of Art owing to his travelling scholarship. He benefitted hugely from his exposure to 20th Century German Sculpture.

He worked in a broad variety of materials including wood, stone, pottery, cement, enamel, silver, cast iron and mosaic and his subject was usually influenced by Irish themes.

He began teaching and practiced art in his spare time. It was not until the late 1940s that his art began to sell, first to fellow artists (including Evie Hone, who was a great admirer of his work) and then public commissions began to stream in. He exhibited with the Irish Exhibition of Living Art and was elected a committee member in 1951. He was a favourite artist for church commissions and as a result produced a great deal of religious art. He was an artist in residence at Kilkenny Design workshops in 1960s when he finally decided to leave teaching in order to pursue art full time. Though his output is traditional, he is not a formulaic artist and was constantly experimenting with new stylistic innovations.

Among his achievements was an important joint retrospective of his work in Douglas Hyde Gallery Dublin; Ulster Museum, Belfast and Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork. He is best known for his ‘Children of Lir’ sculpture in bronze at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, as well as the iconic statue of Jim Larkin on O’Connell street. He was a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy.
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