Deirdre Mckenna

Deirdre McKenna

The nature of my work stems from my desire to visualise autobiographical stories while allowing room for the viewer to extend upon the narrative or meaning. The outcome of my practice results in a broad material, visual & conceptual manifestations. I feel a great need to be free of a “signature” type approach to what I do and my practice spans painting, sculpture, photography, curation, installation and video. I aim to offer viewers a vision of something with integrity, both in its conceptual value and artistic realisation.  Each work has its own statement to make and a unique story to tell. 

“McKenna's show has throughout the lure and allure of Propp's analytical materials, such as these character types and their little narratives which can be generated around them. That allure is such in fact as to generate not only a path towards narrative, the construction of a story around each work presented, but also perhaps ultimately a story around the relation among all the works”

“The craft of the show is exquisite, both in the individual works - from sculptural works to the small prints on show - and in the exhibition design, the transformation of the space by light, colour and tone:  this show is an exquisitely executed theatrical event. But in as much as this deserves admiration, in order to move the conversation forward there are critical concerns with having as a source for work a recognition of narrative mythic elements in contemporary urban life”

Declan Sheehan

“The motive of entrapment appears also in the video by McKenna Incantation, whereas her wall painting Phantom makes unusual demands on perception, its pale yellow seems to seep through the white wall into eternity of nothing. On the other hand, her Lipstick of her Smoke is a robust gesture of clearly legible letters proclaiming its belonging to the Nabokov’s story: Institute of Preparation for the Here and After.

I watched the video without the sound, on purpose. The composition reminded me of folk songs and classical sonatas, with motifs re-appearing in different constellations, like a refrain in psalms.”

Dr. Slavka Sverakova


Deirdre McKenna (b. Dublin, 1973) is a visual artist/curator and studio member of Flax Art Studios, Belfast. I studied Fine Art painting in the RTC Sligo (under Ronnie Hughs, Nick Miller & Dermot Seymore) , and then a BA at the University of Ulster, Belfast. Between 2002 – 2004 I acted as a co-director of Catalyst Arts, Belfast exhibiting, organising and collaborating. In 2007 I returned to study a masters in fine art at the University of Ulster, graduating with distinction, Deans Prize & RUA Prize. I’ve worked within the arts in Belfast since 2000, spending 10 years with the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast 2007 – 2017 assisting artists, curators, communities and collections (Tate, Imperial War Museum, British Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland).  My work has been exhibited nationally and internationally (Taiwan, London, Tokyo, New York). The Arts Council of Northern Irelands have a selection of my work in their public collection, alongside numerous private collections and my practice has featured in range of international art journals and reviews.

In recent years my practice has led to projects with local activists from Reclaim the Agenda for Processions, commissioning new work and has been selected for the British Textiles Biennial 2019. 

Since 2017 I have worked freelance with the University of Atypical, Belfast.

Exhibiting with: Tracy Emin, Grason Perry, Henry Moore, Phil Collins, Susan MacWilliam, Mark Wallinger, Christine Borland, Seamus Hanrahan, Stephen Rennicks etc.
Professional memberships: Visual Artist Ireland, Catalyst Arts, & Flax Art Studios