Rose Bay Willow Herb
Paul Kenny (UK)

Rose Bay Willow Herb is my first moving image work. It is the continuation of a body of work that I have been developing for over 25 years, which I call O Hanami.

In the spring of 1999, I spent three weeks in Japan on a travel grant from the Sasakawa Foundation. While there, I witnessed 'O Hanami' - the joyous worship of the opening of the cherry blossoms. I was told that the literal translation of 'O Hanami' was "flower-watching" but the poetic translation was "the celebration of transient beauty."

This phrase "the celebration of transient beauty" is the underlying guide for this work. The spectacular bursting of seed pods in the Rose Bay Willow Herb was photographed at intervals over 24 hours, edited to ten still frames, and animated. The accompanying musical score by Richard J Birkin was commissioned to complete the work.

I seek to find the awe-inspiring in that which is easily passed by, and by looking at the micro, asks how we might gain insight into the macro.


Paul Kenny’s medium is photography. Over the last 50 years, his work has evolved as the medium itself undergoes cataclysmic changes. He sees new technologies as opportunities to add depth and impact to his artistic practice. While his reliance on purely photographic processes remains constant, his work has spanned from analogue to digital, monochrome to colour, plein-air to studio, prints to lightboxes, stills to moving images, and using a conventional camera to a scanner.

In his career, he has been represented by six London Galleries, including The Fine Art Society, Purdy Hicks, and The Photographers Gallery. He has works in some of the world’s greatest public and private art collections, including The V and A, The National Gallery of Scotland, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs.