Dublin is a wonderful city, famed for it’s historic cobbled streets and the Guiness Brewery, and for one week last December, it hosted the largest solo exhibition of Kenneth Webb’s work ever to be displayed.
This momentous exhibition of 167 carefully selected paintings revealed Kenneth’s legacy of capturing the poetry and drama of the landscape of the West of Ireland, notably of Connemara, where Kenneth has had a studio since the 1970s.
The exhibition took the viewer on a journey through Kenneth’s work from the 1960s to the present day. Arranged thematically by room, the themes reflected the concepts that Kenneth has embraced throughout his artistic career with rooms devoted to Metamorphosis, Bouquet, Marconi Bog, Jewels of the Bog, Derrigimlagh Waterlilies, The Atlantic Way, Blackthorn, and ended with a vast, impressive room abundant with Kenneth’s paintings of Poppies, one of his most powerful and prolific subjects.
Throughout the exhibition, the viewers experience of the paintings were enhanced by timelapse videos of Kenneth at work in his studio and by virtual reality tours of Kenneth’s Ballinaboy Studio garden and the Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara, created by Kenneth’s grandson Donovan, the 2018 winner of the BT Young Scientist’s Technology Award. Donovan worked with Kenneth in the months prior to the exhibition compelling Kenneth to embrace all the wonders of new technology, resulting in a virtual reality space where visitors could create their own virtual painting influenced by Kenneth’s landscapes and a monumental interactive installation, inspired by Kenneth’s enchanting paintings of poppies, in which silk poppies were blown into the air amongst print outs of live tweets.
The exhibition was almost a year in the making and we are greatly indebted to Kenneth’s family and The Kenneth Webb Foundation for making this exhibition possible. Kenneth’s creativity has never ceased to amaze and inspire all those who encounter his vividly coloured and expressive landscapes and still lifes, and the sheer volume of paintings on display, many painted in the months prior to the exhibition revealed that at almost 92 years old Kenneth is still a force to be reckoned with in the history of Irish painting.