Angela O’Kelly. Is 46 years old and lives in a small village in Co Kildare, Ireland. Originally from the east end of London, brought up in a middle class environment with a Tunisian mother and a Scottish father, and is happily married and a mother to her 5 year old beautiful boy.
Angela has always been interested in art from an early age but didn’t get into art full time until she was in her late thirties. At this point in her life she experienced a personal set back and this led to Angela suffering from PTSD.
Although having studied an art, crafts and design course while recovering, Angela considers herself as a self-taught artist.
We chose Angela because at ASLI we are passionate about raising awareness to tackle the issue of violence against women and girls all over the world. Angela spoke to our hearts and we wanted to share her bravery and survival with the world. Using art to heal is so important and we encourage this always. Now Angela has taken the first steps to inspire you all to use art, create a better world, Angela is:
“I specialize in abstract oil and mixed media paintings. I have five exhibitions behind me from galleries, fairs to libraries. As an artist I stand for FREEDOM which comes through my passion for colour. Colour is a powerful tool and can effect my physical, mental and emotion state which reflects in my paintings. This is where I can express myself in a way I want to.”
What motivated you to deal with the subject of violence against women in your art?
“My motivation for dealing with violence against women is that I want to express the urgency for all women concerned to have the right to the immediate availability of help through therapies such as art, when subjected to all issues regarding many types of violence towards women. I feel all governments around the world have a responsibility to provide a safe and caring environment without any judgement towards the victim.”
Tell us why you chose this submission?
“This is a subject very much close to my heart. I have experienced an assault which led me to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. This was an horrific part of my life. Being subjected to many therapies I was reintroduce to my world of art.”
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
“Flow of the oils gives me the freedom to explore the many colours and the intensity of my mood at that point of time. When experimenting with oils my imagination just explodes and runs riot into a frenzy of feelings. It allows me to speak in a creative way. When using recycled materials I am happy to say that I am part of an eco friendly world.”
What is your process when creating?
“In order for my process to begin there has to be a state of quietness and a still in my mind. My environment needs to be warm and calm in order for my brain to start igniting my imagination full of ideas. Depending on my mood, it will lead me to decide what colour/ colours I would be drawn to. Different kinds of music can also influence my actions on how I approach my style of work, ie: brushes, knifes and also my hands would reflect greatly in my paintings. You will be able to see the different types of texture in many of my art work. My ideas are already processed in my subconscious mind ready to go. The same process goes for and in respect of my mixed media (jewellery). For me there is no right or wrong way of doing things. I can break any rules I like. I have the freedom when creating a piece of art work.”
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
“I’m influenced by a wide range of artists. For example social media. Facebook has given the world the opportunity to share and receive so many artists work. Its just phenomenal to see the amount of talent there is around us in the world. I remember though when spending some time in hospital , I was surrounded with many talented artists and in our company. I would watch and admire this great sculptress. He himself didn’t know he had such a gift until he became unwell. We were lucky to receive this space to explore our deep emotions. This really showed in this one man’s work of art. His advise to me was to do what you love to do and go for it! These words have stayed with me. It’s not until now in my later years I am doing exactly that.”
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
“I always wanted to achieve at helping other women who are going through the same type of trauma in their lives. I would love to have the chance to give back some belief, hope and courage for those seeking this for themselves.”
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
“Well to me the statement means just that, “Art does save lives.” Everyday people are suffering some type of illness, violence and prejudice all around the world. I believe if we were all surrounded in this area of therapy, each person would have the right and benefit in a positive way of expression. Art can be the voice for that one person who has difficultly in expressing themselves verbally. Art can tell a story and creates freedom of speech. With all the pain and suffering we endure in life I would like to think we can see beauty through our art.”
As you are aware this first issue of the ASLI quarterly magazine is focused on women and because of this we wanted to ask our featured artists how they felt about being a women today:
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
“I believe Feminism is, as a women I should have the opportunity to have equality and be able to make my own choices about my own life and health. To be able to make mistakes without someone out there to demoralize you or me.”
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously?
“Do you have any experiences of this? Unfortunately we are in a society where we often feel we have to conform to the social norm and stereotypes. I suppose growing up in the 1970’s 80’s as a child not really knowing much about these issues I was succumb to this from time to time.”
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world?
“Have you any experience of this? I been thinking a lot about this very broad question. My option is that men and women are sadly far from equal. It doesn’t matter that we have so many educated women in today’s societies, in most industries we can still see that we are dominated by the male species. Until we take the time to understand, respect and encourage our different communication styles with one another we will still have a long way to go.”
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?
“There are two causes that I am very passionate about, they are all mental health issues and violence against women. Over the years while living in London I was involved with the mental health as a volunteer. I volunteered as a community worker and a counsellor for people with a wide range of health problems. This showed me that we needed to update, educate and teach people for a better understanding on all issues regarding mental health. Since living in Ireland I had experienced first hand in a assault of my own. I realized very early that the help that I needed was very limited and it was up to me to find the appropriate help. I was lucky to find a organization that could help me. Since recovering from my assault, I have always wanted to give some thing back by helping just one person through their art, exploring all the pain and anguish that they are enduring at this precise time.”
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
“I would love to show people it doesn’t matter what background you come from as long as you have a paint brush in your hand, you can create anything you want. Abstract art is a great alternative for people to express themselves in a non-verbal way.
What are your goals as with your art?
“I would love to build a foundation here in Ireland, where people can have free access to our art facilities and create. To be able to feel that they are in a safe and welcoming environment.”
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
“Well my next adventure is to continue my journey to FREEDOM ! My next stage/project is of Angels. All I can say is watch this space. My imagination will lead the way!”
Is there anything you would like to add to your interview?
“Yes. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Art Saves Lives International for given me the opportunity to show so many people around the world what art can really do for a better and healthier life.
I would like to say to anyone out there, no matter where you are, you are not alone.
There is help there so don’t be afraid to take that one step to find it. I DID!”
If you would like to find out more about Angela’s art follow these links: