Kelly’s practice has taken intersections between art, life, and sport, exploring ideas of bodily interiority, emotional states, and mind / body synergy in various media and processes including drawing, painting, installation, print, sculpture and video. She often creates focused bodies of work, developed over time, drawing on personal experience, combining feeling and intuition. Her work deals with notions of resilience, liminality and transformation. The body has been the centre point for exploring issues of lived experience. Recent 3 dimensional works consisting of constructed torsos, utilising rough textiles such as scrim, jute and hand sewn processes, attempt to encapsulate ideas about the fragmented body, psychological burden, protection, care and empathy.
In her work Kelly has explored the parallels between art and sport. In 2018 her project Mind Fuel interrogated the mind-body synergy and ideas of resilience investigating the nature and challenge of endurance running. In 2022 she has undertaken a Creative Residency in Sport & Art for Dublin City Council Culture Company, working with female boxers and their coaches in Corinthians Boxing Club, North Dublin.
Her collaborations with children, teachers, poets, writers, dancers and choreographers have been important aspects of her practice. In 2017 she was co-initiator, developing ideas and visuals for Landscapes of Loss, a multimedia dance production for the MAC, exploring the territory of grief over time, with Maiden Voyage Dance Company, Belfast.
In 2022 she was the recipient of The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, New York, USA and in 2020 she was awarded the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellowship at The British School at Rome. She has been the recipient of Visual Arts Awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; The Rowel Friers Perpetual Trophy, Royal Ulster Academy of Art; The Drawing Prize 132nd Royal Academy Exhibition, 2013; The Bass Ireland Award 2001; British Council Award 1999; EV+A Open Award, Adjudicator, Jan Hoet, Belgium 1994; First Prize, ‘Siolru’, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin 1994; Alice Berger-Hammerschlag Trust Travel Award 1991; The Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation, Canada 1990.
Kelly’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally since 1990 and is held in public and private collections in Ireland and further afield.