Described by Buckman as a sculptor and assemblage artist, Kemp was born in London, and grew up in Canada before joining the merchant navy. He studied art at Farnham and Wimbledon School of Art, then moved to West Cornwall near Land's End to work in sculpting and the transformation of found objects (1972). With great humour and wit, his creations - whether insects, mammoths, machine reconstructions, or domestic objects - are sought after for permanent public sculpture venues and celebratory events that require large and memorable pieces of work.
In 1995 his workshop suffered a devastating attack by vandals, who destroyed an immense amount of his work from the previous two decades. In 1997 a selection of his new sculptures was shown at Rainyday Gallery, Penzance.
In 2001, Brittain & Cook included in their profile of Kemp a statement of his general working philosophy thus: 'I started making things out of junk years ago because it was free and readily available. Our lives are full of things and what we throw away says as much about us as the objects we keep. The cluttered 'language of things' is full of clues that tell stories about ourselves and the way we live. I am very interested in finding ways of putting objects in front of people that might communicate ideas about the place we share. Some things are funny and some are frightening. The things that we make are changing the world.'