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Michael Kelly
, 1998

by Rick Amor

softground etching on paper (sheet: 37.1 cm x 28.0 cm, image: 30.2 cm x 16.3 cm)

Michael Kelly (b. 1956) graduated from Darlinghurst’s National Art School in 1985 and became an art teacher. In the early 1990s, he held his first solo exhibitions in Melbourne. A few years later, he began going out out with Rick Amor, Andrew Southall and Phil Davey on their regular Friday painting excursions. In 2003 the Friday Group marked its tenth anniversary with the touring exhibition 500 Fridays; but when Kelly left to live in Sydney, the group disbanded. Kelly has had about a dozen solo exhibitions of works that Amor characterises as ‘spiritual landscapes, with great feeling’. He was represented by a gallery in Woollahra, but concentrates, now, on plein air painting in the streets of Darlinghurst, and making books available to people living without homes in that area. Nightworks, an exhibition of his work in 2012, featured paintings of people experiencing homelessness and included Footpath Library. Kelly has spent many nights walking the streets of Sydney. ‘Like Christopher Brennan, the Sydney poet and scholar influenced by the French Symbolist poets,’ he wrote, “All night I have walked and my heart was deep awake”.’ Amor’s former Sydney gallerist, Tony Palmer, commented that he had invested Kelly with a Jacobean air in his print of 1998.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2005
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2005.16