Somhairle Kelly

Gwynedd, 2011I’m a self-taught artist & printmaker; I live in East London and spend as much time in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland as I can. I’m a Quaker, and I think of myself as a bard, but I don’t aspire to druidry.

I was born in a snowstorm on Easter Saturday, in the year of the Silver Jubilee, and brought up in the fields and woods of Essex before moving out to the mountainous heart of Snowdonia. I was always a bookish child, and one obsessed from an early age with stationery & art materials – I used to spend hours practising calligraphy and doodling monsters, though I had no patience for drawing landscapes or still lifes. I’m sure I was as much the despair of my art teacher as the class was mine.

I wrote, and still do sometimes (though I never mastered the englyn), and spent my formative years on farmyard work, on mountain walks, and in every single library and bookshop within twenty miles. Theatre work is in my family’s blood, and I picked up stagecraft & lighting design from my father.

I studied chemistry at the University of York, and then started a PhD in nanomaterials engineering at Cranfield; I left after two years, and since then I’ve been knocking around the theatre world in various ways.

I’ve worked as a theatre tech on Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, and Macbeth – for which I also did fight direction, and we got through the entire production without any injuries. There have been quite a few others, but those are the ones that stick in my mind. Why, yes, I do have a thing about Shakespeare’s comedies… and as part of Illuminati, I worked on the Rose Theatre in Southwark, installing what was then the world’s largest & most complicated underwater electroluminescent lighting system. It’s better known as Marlowe’s theatre than Shakespeare’s, but either way it’s a wonderful place.

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