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 in 1975 to work in sculpting and the transformation of found objects. 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.'
Kemp's work has been shown widely in Cornwall (notably at the Eden Project) and throughout the UK. In recent years he has found himself drawn to painting, though he remains a prolific and highly regarded sculptor.
Sculptor, constructions, painting
works and access
Works and access to works include: The Iron Horse (Four Lanes End Metro Station, Newcastle on Tyne); The Navigators (Hays Galleria, London Bridge); Old King Coal (Pelton Fell); The Old Transformers (Consett)
1977: NAG Newlyn in Pont Aven
1980: A Public Hanging, Penwith Gallery, St Ives
1987: Three Spires Festival (Inspire 2) Truro
1997: Tate St Ives A Quality of Light
2012: 'Hypatia's Handbag', (group show) Trevelyan House, Penzance
2013: Millennium Gallery, St Ives: Mixed Winter Exhibition
2013: The Tribe that Held the Sky Up, Millennium Gallery, St Ives
2017: A Public Hanging 2, Penwith Gallery (May-June)
Brittain, Sarah and Cook, Simon (2001) Behind the Canvas, 40 Artists working in West Cornwall;
Buckman (2006) Dictionary of Artists in Britain since 1945
Cornwall Today (Sept 2017) 'The Archaeologist of the Future' by Alex Wade
Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery
Whybrow (1986) Forms and Faces: Sculptors in SW Cornwall