Kathleen Ryan

Bad Grapes

Former glory

Kathleen grew up in California in the United States. In this area oranges grow abundantly. Fruit is a recurring theme in Kathleen’s work. She uses the rotten fruit as a symbol for decay. Nothing lasts forever.


These grapes could also be seen as a Vanitas still life. Vanitas still life are paintings that portray mortality. Artists have been making paintings in this theme for hundreds of years. Still life paintings with ordinary or special objects. Like flowers, pearls, candles, hourglasses. But also flies, skulls and old people. All of them with the same symbolic message: life on earth is only temporary.

True beauty

Have you already looked at these grapes from up close? They’re made of countless of gemstones. Like amethyst, ruby and quartz. There is so much to discover, twenty four different kinds of gemstones no less. How long do you think it took to attach all these stones?


It’s a remarkable contrast, gemstones with rotten fruit. Kathleen uses the most precious gemstones for the rotten parts of the fruit. For the parts of the fruit that are still fresh, she uses worthless materials. Just some stuff she found on the streets, in secondhand shops or in cluttered cabinets.

Wine please

Kathleen gets inspired by ancient art and the themes that come along with that. Have you heard from Bacchus before? The god of wine and joy. This Roman god loves to see his followers have a good glass of wine, or maybe two. It’s no coincidence that a massive drinking party is called a bacchanal. Can you picture it? A god surrounded by bottles of wine, someone feeding him grapes. Maybe Kathleen also had this in mind while creating this artwork. 

Treasure Hunt

Which gemstones do you recognize?

Edelstenen op soort en kleur

Kijk eens anders

Neat or messy?

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