Life, Belief and Beyond

Unaffected by popular trends in Modern Art, Rose Finn-Kelcey puts the meaning of her work first.

The fame of this Artist is not proportionate to the strong impact her work. The ephemeral nature of her performance Art has meant it has not been as easy to promote, record or document. The work is in the moment. This has resulted in Rose Finn-Kelcey not being the household name she deserves to be.


After an injury slowed down her practice she found a way to respond to a record-breaking auction bid. $39.9 million was paid for Van Gogh’s painting of Sunflowers. In 1987 using £1000 in coins she created a mosaic replica of the piece and called it ‘Bureau de Change’.


It is inspiring to see her uncompromising approach to making work is still Avant Garde today. The ambitious projects on display shows Finn-Kelcey found a way to make the Art she needed to.


This is the first posthumous exhibition of works. A full reterospective of Rose Finn Kelcey’s work would have filled this gallery many times over.


This capsule exhibition is insightfully curated. The selection of pieces on show demonstrate the integrity with which the artist developed her work. A strain of vulnerability runs through her art and each piece of work tells a different story about this theme.



A single magpie stands in a cabinet with reference to England’s pagan past.


The video work ‘Glory’ shows cut out figures vulnerable as she controls their movement about the space like a croupier moving chips.


The humour is always strong with ‘God’s Bog’, showing white shell with a loo seat on top.


During Finn-Kelcey’s career she received significant commissions. The machine that delivers prayers was one of many that lined the river walk towards the Millenium Dome. The visitor interaction is up close and personal in ‘It Pays to Pray’ where a 20p coin buys you a prayer from an adapted chocolate vending machine. The words have a powerful impact.



Whilst the meaning of the work is not always on the surface Finn-Kelcey’s unique connection to humanity is always present. The self-portrait photographs are deeply intimate.   Taken from her own honest image of herself are two sketches of the Artist’s eyes. They are blisteringly honest.


Through her truthful work, Rose Finn-Kelcey’s creative personality fills the upstairs gallery of Modern Art Oxford many times over.


Her publications are available on line


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