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Chance to hear eminent Manx artist

Friday, 28 February 2014

KA manAn eminent Manx artist returns to the Island next week to inaugurate the Citywing ‘Artist on a Plane’ series of public lectures. 

Kevin Atherton’s talk at the Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education on Thursday 6 March, 7.45pm, is the first in a year-long series sponsored by Citywing. 

Kevin, who is head of postgraduate pathways at the Irish National College of Art and Design in Dublin, was born in Douglas and began his illustrious career on the foundation course at the old Art School in Kensington Road, Douglas, under Norman Sayle RI. 

Helen Fox, Programme Manager for Art, Design and Media at the College, said that although he’s possibly best known for his public sculptures, Kevin’s work has taken on many forms since the 1970s and it should be a fascinating lecture. 

‘Initially based in performance and creative social intervention, his work was by turns poetic and confrontational,’

Helen said. 

‘The interaction, the direct conversation between the artist and his audience, has always been important in his work. When, in the late 70s, he began to use newly accessible video technology it was as a means to address viewers directly. 

‘A memorable piece from his one-man exhibition at the Manx Museum in 2001 set two screens at close quarters facing each other,’ Helen said. ‘On one, the familiar characters of Coronation Street acted out their angst-ridden personal relationships and on the other, Atherton’s face is seen interjecting with explanations of how the director, camera and actors are using the alchemy of the medium to affect the audience. This was a fascinating piece, essentially a didactic media studies lecture which, as you looked from screen to screen and back and forth left one feeling like an audience member at Wimbledon centre court.’ 

Helen said:

‘Kevin’s current work is about language and the slippage in meaning between what is transmitted by the speaker and what is understood by the listener. He recently exhibited work at the University of Vienna about the inventive Irish comic writer Flann O’Brien. In an attempt to decode or uncover the workings of O’Brien’s droll genius, Kevin has started writing a serious, critical, theoretical text about the uses of language disguised in the form of a comic novel.’ 

The lecture – in which Kevin will focus on three of his sculptures but also talk about his work over five decades – is free to attend. 

The ‘Artist on a Plane’ series marks Island of Culture 2014 and will see a different creative talent visiting the Island every month during the Isle of Man Arts Council’s year-long cultural celebration. 

For more information about ‘Artist on a Plane’ or Kevin’s lecture, contact

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