Mary Kelly’s work interrogates language as a system of meaning, reflecting back to us how we remember and describe our lives. Grounded in daily struggles, yet framed by a wider view of historical events, her prescient themes give "the personal is political" a complex and evocative resonance. The challenging questions Kelly poses are discourse specific– words are most often her material. She treats voices as found objects that she collects, then carves or models into visual form. Words emerge through lint, embodying the precariousness of the lives they tell of; a soprano’s voice rhythmically paces the stanzas of a ballad; light shines through text, welcoming us into dialogue; a mirror reflects words down below the floor, symbolically making readers look into the histories they are reading. When walking through and around her large-scale installations, narrative is as much about the experience of space as it is about the story that unfolds between words and objects.
-Dominique Heyse-Moore, Whitworth Art Gallery, 2011