Jack Kay

FAKE Art Festival 2019-2020

Best in Show

I am a political/protest artist, using alternative materials such as leather and acid to produce sculptural compositions which illustrate the social and personal political aspects which can and/or have affected the everyday lives of people. These pieces not only illuminate the physical “pain” but also the psychological scars left behind.

Scars and Scabs
62 cm X 72.5 cm X 5 cm
Dyed and acid burned chamois leather fragments

12.2 cm X 18.1 cm X 15.9 cm
Dyed and acid burned chamois leather

Artless Splinter
45 cm X 45 cm X 28.5 cm
Dyed and acid burned chamois leather fragments

Memento Mori - Cancer
6.7 cm X 5 cm X 9 cm
Mixed Media

8.7 cm X 4.7 cm X 6.8 cm
Mixed Media

3.5 cm X 22.5 cm X 32.5 cm
Mixed Media

Chopping Block
11 cm X 30 cm X 31.3 cm
Sculpture in Mixed Media
Tell us a little bit about your art education or art background?
    I get my artistic talent from my mother. She has always supported my interest in the Arts and the paths that have chosen to take. She is also my best/worst critic. During school I was encouraged to apply for a National Certificate Portfolio Course at Inverness UHI. Since then I have gained a Higher National Certificate and Diploma, and in 2018 I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Contemporary and Contextualised Practice.

Many of your pieces are reminiscent of wiped blood and blood-soaked rags. What is the concept behind this collection?
    The concepts I represent through my work are social and/or political events that can affect us directly or non-directly. One of my latest collections reflects my relationship with domestic violence, and illustrates it so viewers could “relate” from either a personal or spectator standpoint, or be repulsed as it may not be a subject they wish to observe in Art. Initially the work I produce now did heavily feature ‘bloody’ bandages and dressings, and highlighted events such as the Manchester bombing in 2017 and the attacks on hospital buildings in Syria. But I have now simplified my compositions to an abstract state; using alternate materials, textures and movement to express my choice of subject matter and the ‘human element’ that runs throughout my work.

What decides the choice of your medium and what practical problems have you faced while working with it?
    The main medium I use is chamois leather; it is breathable, flexible and absorbent. Through its tanning process its colour is close to ‘skin tone’ which is then easy to dye and make it more realistic. I do this through a mix of watered-down acrylics, inks and oils. However it is tough to pierce with a sewing needle when I need to make a bigger piece, which makes it hard on the fingers. To stiffen the leather into shape I use a very corrosive acid commonly marketed as powdered drain cleaner. When it’s mixed with water to activate, it releases a vapour that ruins my throat, even when I wear a mask. Thankfully I haven’t suffered any serious injuries when applying it, touch wood.

Walk us through your artistic process. How do you conceive a piece? How does it come together? How long will you work on a piece?
    70 – 80% of the time my work is influenced by what I read or see on the News; on TV or the internet. Other than that, it can be a word or a phrase that can trigger the creative process, or even be inspired by another artist’s artwork. From there, I try to illustrate the image in my head onto paper in my sketchbooks and develop it further before gathering the required amount of materials to create the piece. Sometimes I produce work through experimentation. How long I work on a piece depends on the size and how the acid reacts when it’s drying and curing. Small pieces can take from a week to 3 or 4 whilst the bigger examples can be a month or two. If I take any longer than that or delay a project through my chaotic yet laid-back approach, I run the risk of losing interest and putting projects on ice until I regain my enthusiasm.

What do you hope people take away from your work?
  I know that some viewers may not like the image of the work I create; whether it’s because of the composition or the themes. If there isn’t a high opinion then I hope people understand my work and why I illuminate the subject matter that I have chosen.


Skinwork - Acid Burn
3.3 cm X 19.4 cm X 19.4 cm
Framed chamois leather sculpture

Skinwork - Stab Wound
3.3 cm X 19.4 cm X 19.4 cm
Framed chamois leather sculpture

7.8 cm X 7.4 cm X 35.2 cm
Sculpture in Mixed Media

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