About Mary Kemp.

Artist statement and biographical details.
I think I was born with a paintbrush in my hand. As a child I used to paint on the reverse side of wallpaper and carry them around under my arm.


It became obvious at the age of 18 that I had to leave home. Both my mother and I acknowledged that. And the only way I could leave home was to go into something safe and conventional like nursing, so this is what I did.

Away from home my life exploded in all sorts of exciting and colourful ways, and after 4 dizzy years, yes, I found I had not only gained a nursing qualification, but also a husband and a place at art school. I was happy.
Children followed, sleepless nights, no time, no thinking, breathing or creating space.

But it’s amazing how quickly the children grew up and left home, allowing me to paint seriously and wholeheartedly. When they were little I’d struggled through craft fairs and local art shows, producing prints of dragons and small paintings. It was a jolly sociable time but with all those dragons I didn’t have much time for other painting.

So it seems strange then that the art I create now are inspired by the feelings I had during the time the children were so young. Each new painting harks back to endless days of summer and family holidays at the seaside, optimistically imagining we hardly ever argued or got lost or sunburnt. My models now are not my own children but often younger members of the family, no longer my responsibility.

However included in my paintings there is one element that was never present when my family were young, and that is joyful Grace the border collie, my son’s family dog. I think we would have enjoyed her company, and I’m so pleased that now when I go out with children and grandchildren Grace is often part of our expeditions. And of course she’s a great model even if like the rest of the family she doesn’t stay still for long, especially when I get the sketchbook out.