Image credit: Kristy Field

Image credit: Kristy Field

Kelly O’Brien lived in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 38 years before moving to Europe in 2011. At that time, she also made the transition to focus full time on her art.

"The past few years have been all about stepping out of my comfort zone, with two international moves and a simultaneous career change. The landscapes I've navigated these past few years – geographic and internal – continue to challenge my assumptions about where I should live and who I can be."

Materials and personal narrative play important roles in Kelly’s work. She works primarily with paper, attracted to its paradoxical qualities of ephemeral strength. Even when manipulated in seemingly destructive ways - scoring, burning, sewing into, tearing, repairing - what emerges is often more interesting and beautiful than the original form.

Kelly works extensively with trade professionals that serve the designed interiors market, including hospitality, healthcare, corporate, and high-end residential projects that call for bespoke art. Her signature series, Playing With Fire, can be found in public collections throughout the United States, The Middle East, and Asia.

Kelly's collections explore specific themes:

Playing With Fire investigates the tension between control vs. letting go, where true creativity happens.

Object (Im)permanence explores themes of home, distance from family, and rerooting.

Mending | Tending reflects notions of loss and grappling with grief.

New Country deals with her move from Germany to the English countryside, and associated feelings of dislocation and adjustment.

Geographical Cure addresses the question of whether we can leave problems behind by moving to a new place.

Hard Tryer considers the connection between vulnerability and courage when leaving one's comfort zone.

Postcards from the Edge explore themes of journey, home, and contentment.

Kelly is a juried artist at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia, US, and in the UK an Associate Artist at Spike Island, Bristol and 44AD ArtSpace, Bath. She is also part of the Frankfurt artist collective CKCK. She currently lives and works near Bath, England with her husband, Ian.


Artiq, London, UK

ArtLink, London, UK

DAC Art Consulting, Atlanta, Georgia, US

Galerie Uhn, Königstein-im-Taunus, Germany

Grand Image Fine Art Publisher, Seattle, Washington, US

James Robertson Art Consultants, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Soho Myriad Fine Art Consultants, Atlanta, Georgia, US


Website and artwork © Kelly O'Brien.

Photography credits:

Playing With Fire photographed by Zed Al-Gafoor of Image Centre

Hard Tryer watercolors and Postcards from the Taunus photographed by Julia Schwager

Hope Blossoms photographed by Victor Pelino

All artist books except Moving Parts and Baby Blue photographed by Jim Vecchione

Moving Parts photographed by Paul Gordon Emerson