Joanna Kidney

The other day, organizing my wetsuits, the smell of the neoprene reminded me about Ireland and the time that I spent in County Mayo this year. It is not that Ireland smells like neoprene at all, but my memories about the light, landscape and people that I met there are linked to the experience that I had and surfing was part of it too.

Views from Ballinglen Arts Foundation.


Anyway, art as an experience and a way of understanding what surrounds me is something that I share with Joanna Kidney, an Irish artist that I met at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation.

During all the time that we shared at the residency, we visited each other´s studio frequently and maintained over the weeks a conversation about each other´s process and work.

With a study of complexity evolving from simplicity, process and drawing as backbone of Joanna´s work, once you get into her studio you will be immersed in a universe of related series or families of work.


Using different techniques such as drawing, monoprints, encaustic painting or groups of founded objects, natural and manmade, she articulates a body of work where you can find connections with natural, physical and sociological structures that are surrounding us. In certain way she traces a path that allows us to understand that microscopic or macroscopic scale are intimately related and that nature and humanity tend to repeat structures. Her way of working has some room for unexpected things that might happen in the creative process and become part of her practice.

Naveander, Installation view, RHA Atrium, Dublin, 2012-2013,
Felt, wool, hemp and thread,
210cm x 284cm x 168cm

Naveander (detail), RHA Atrium, Dublin, 2012-2013,
Felt, wool, hemp and thread,
210cm x 284cm x 168cm
Ordered Complexities 3, 2013,
monotypes on paper,
46cm X 46cm.
Plot VI, 2015, encaustic on panel, 60cm x 60cm

It put its face up to my face so I could see XV, 2015, encaustic on panel, 30cm x 30cm

Recently Joanna had a solo show at the Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, County Wicklow, where she exhibited part of the work done during her residency at Ballinglen Arts Foundation.

As part of the exhibition there was an installation that gave it´s name to the exhibition: “Wunderkammer”.

Here you are a link to the tv program Wicklow Matters (45) where you will be able to see an interview with Joanna and her exhibition:

For further information about Joanna Kidney .


Fernando Villena. Exposición en Addaya Centre D'art Contemporani. Island Life: Work in progress.

Island Life: Work in progress.

Island life es una línea de trabajo e investigación, que se entrecruza, enlaza y coexiste en el tiempo con otras como "Una mirada a la fragua de Vulcano", "Extreme conditions, extreme solutions", etc..

La luz, formas orgánicas, tanto vegetales como geológicas, así como las experiencias vividas en Mallorca, Puerto Rico e Irlanda a lo largo de los tres últimos años son el marco en el que se centra la presente muestra. El nombre del proyecto, además, surge del título de un álbum del grupo latino "Yerba Buena", el cual ha formado parte de mi banda sonora en estos últimos años.

En la exposición podemos ver una selección obra pictórica y fotográfica realizada en Addaya en 2013, Área: lugar de proyectos, Puerto Rico 2014 y en Ballinglen Arts Foundation, 2015, así como una reflexión sobre esas experiencias.

Del 7 de Agosto al 24 de Octubre 2015.



Residency at Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland.

A month an a half has passed away since I came back from Ireland and my memories and feelings about County Mayo and Ballycastle are fresh.

It was my second time at the Emerald Island, but it has been a completely different experience. Back in 1999 my parents, my brother and I went to visit my sister to Dublin. From there we did a tour trough the island trying to visit as much as we could within a week.

Killala´s Harbour.

Moyne Friary, near Killala, Co. Mayo.

Traveling and interacting with different places, scenarios, people and cultures around the globe has become part of my artistic process. This time, thanks to the Ballinglen Arts Fellowship I have been able to stay for a month and a half, painting and taking photographs, in Ballycastle, County Mayo and surroundings. Such a nice experience, once I got there the time seems to pass slowlyer or maybe it´s that certain things don´t matter anymore, giving you a completely different perspective of time, it wasn´t anymore about minutes and hours, time was related to sunlight, tides, rain and wind.


Ballinglen Arts Foundation.

During the residency at Ballinglen Arts Foundation I shared all this experiences with Joana KidneyJoseph Ostraff, who were artists in residency at the same time, and their families. Obviously the staff of the foundation was a plus in this experience, they have created a warm atmosphere that allows you to be focused in your work from the begining.

Joseph Ostraff, Joanna Kidney and Fernando Villena
Photograph courtesy of Nathan Somers.

On the other hand Joseph and Nuala Clarke, an Irish artist who collaborates with the foundation, were doing workshops with the surrounding schools from County Mayo. As part of those workshops they came to visit us to the studios in order to know our work and being able to speak with us about it. I was free to choose if they were allowed to come into the studio, I had my doubts about it at the beginning, but it ended being a good experience for me and I hope that for them too.

Nuala Clarke and Melinda Ostraff at the printmaking studio.

Sometimes they asked completely unexpected things and I was wondering if I understood the question properly...

and sometimes my answer was as funny as their questions.

Now I´m whiling to expose my nieces to art.

I still remember when I was a kid going with my aunt to the Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao an how the light came trough the staircase steps.