After turning her practice to Digital Media, artist Kelly Ewing explores the intersection of the feminine as an object and Irish folklore.

Elspeth Walker  |  Ed Juliet Rennie | 23 April 2021

Kelly Ewing, Wet across, slippery within I (2020)  © Courtesy of the artist.

Kelly Ewing is an Irish born artist, currently working in London. Her work explores the theme of the female body and its representation in Irish folklore. During her MA at the Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, and throughout the pandemic, her practise has turned to Augmented Reality (AR). Creating new spaces for female forms to inhabit, Digital Media has opened up the potential to delve further into and create otherworldly space for her sculptural forms.

Traditionally, in mythology and folklore, the female body is presented as vulnerable and wandering, which Ewing finds reflected in the Irish landscape. Her work focuses on, “the construction of the feminine as object and landscape”, seeking to create an alternative female “otherworld”. Her use of texture and colour in representing female or womanly forms seeks to reclaim space that female bodies have not traditionally been afforded. Her new work adds another dimension to this spatial exploration, as Ewing explained in an Agora interview, “My digital work currently, is definitely focused more on the folkloric, ethereal, otherworldly landscapes – seeking to imagine an alternative female otherworld with markers of the female and womanly body”. 

Artist, Title work (yyyy) © Courtesy of the artist.

Having studied painting and working mostly with drawing, painting and sculpture installations, Ewing stated that, “I went to a very traditional art school in Belfast for my undergraduate degree and nobody there was working with New Media or Digital Art, so it always had this mysterious appeal to me, it was anti- establishment and daring”. Starting with sketching shapes and forms, using a variety of media to capture the abstract sense of body that is obvious in her sculptures. Ewing describes, “The result is often unrecognisable and resembles something organic, tactile and raw”. After which she creates the forms in sculpture. 

With the introduction of Digital Media into her work, the process has continued to evolve. Using 3D modelling software, Blender, Ewing digitally sculpts her drawings. Then, taking photos from the physical sculptures or drawings, she applies them to the exterior, adding texture. From there, Ewing uses Adobe Spark to manipulate their movements– making them float, undulate and appear alive. These digital sculptures can then be inserted into new spaces via Instagram Stories. 

Kelly Ewing, Wet across, Slippery Within (2020) © Courtesy of the artist.

The ability to place these new digital forms into any location via Instagram Stories has transformed the way Ewing’s work can interact with spaces. In her video piece, From Cailleach to Overworld (2020), Ewing acts as the link between her Digital Art and the physical world, reaching out to virtual sculptures whilst enjoying the rural Irish countryside. By inviting the viewers to use an Instagram filter to project her forms into their own environments, she seeks to break down the barriers between the physical and digital spaces. This process of increased viewer participation also pushes questions of space, ownership and context of the realms in which the female form inhabits. 

Ewing’s work has evolved thematically and spatially with the introduction of AR and New Media. It has also opened up new forms of expression as a female artist. Unlike more traditional artistic methods of painting or sculpture, Digital Art provides what Ewing described in our interview as a “clean slate,” a medium less encumbered. With a wider scope to process new ideas and to form new environments, there is room for new explorations by artists such as Ewing, crafting alternative spaces for her digital female forms, transporting them to a variety of other worlds.  

About the artist

Kelly Ewing, (b. Belfast, 1996) is an artist working with drawing, sculpture and installation, augmented reality, and video. Based in London, UK, where she is undertaking her MA in Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, and in receipt of the Frank Bowling Scholarship. In 2020 her work ‘Wet across, Slippery Within’ was featured at the Tate Britain Tate Late show. She studied her BA Hons in Fine Art at Belfast College of Art. In 2018, she was awarded the BEEP Painting Prize by Elysium Gallery in Wales. 

Artist Website

Up coming exhibition

-‘BADART Presents: TRASH’, Fredric Gallery, London, (POSTPONED 2021)

Past Shows and Fair booths

Solo Shows

  • July 2019 EQUILIBRIO, Two-person show with Jason Gregory, Elysium Gallery, Wales, UK 

Group Shows

  • December 2020   Life on Venus, The Tub, Hackney, London, UK
  • December 2020   Wet across, Slippery Within, Tate Late, Tate Britain, London, UK
  • November 2020 ‘GARDEN X GARDEN’, Mary Gibbon x Kelly Ewing, London & Kent, UK
  • October 2020   Together Alone, Curated by Nadia Berri, Hampstead Heath, ()
  • October 2020   MA GRADUATE SHOWCASE, UAL, Online Exhibition, London, UK

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