An Interview with Kirsty Black

Posted by Fiona Cable on

Where did the idea/inspiration for your recent work come from?

The freedom of the initial gestural sweep of colour, and vigorous brushwork provides the initial inspiration. This first step is intuitive. I then use this framework to inform the progress of the piece, as shapes and movement reveal themselves on the canvas, transporting me into a colourful world of invented narrative. It is also at this stage that imagination steps into play, in much the same way cloud gazing prompts a story or daydreaming allows your mind to meander, the development of the artwork in front of me, sparks my imagination and a story unfolds.

Kirsty Black

What is your philosophy?

I aim to create joyful works that engage with the viewer, leading them on a journey of individual interpretation. Just as I find abstract painting liberating, I would like it to be freeing for the audience too.

What did you learn from this creative exploration?

The aim of the latest body of work is to retain a sense of playfulness, energy, movement and colour while stripping the work of some of the detail so that it is pared back to its essential elements.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey into art?

Growing up, my family and I traveled extensively living in various countries in Asia, and Europe as well as South Africa and New Zealand. This immersion in different cultures was exciting and very stimulating. The lasting impressions of colours, smells, shapes and energy are distilled into my personality and consequently, provide the backdrop for my work.

While art, particularly abstract art has always been part of my life (my favourite present as a kid was a pack of felt tips!), I initially studied English, playwriting, drama and art history at Otago University, which tied in with my love of storytelling – something that extends to my whole family. After, continuing to travel, on a whim I opted for graphic design, which became graphic design, with art on the side to
fulltime artist.

Who would you consider your heroes (in the art world or artists you look up to)?

I have always admired the distinctive, culturally significant house painting of the Ndebele women in Southern Africa. Passed from mothers to their daughters the symbols and geometric patterns while seemingly simple, are in fact a complex means of communication. They are also visually stunning, traditionally tonal colours from nature were used in combination with abstract designs. More recently, bright colours, modern representational objects, and complex designs are merged with traditional elements giving the murals a modern interpretation.

Which one tool could you not live without?

The humble paperclip – incredibly useful for clearing clogged paint tube nozzles.

What’s your next goal?

I would like to explore Colour Field ((a la Rothko, Newman and Still) painting and gesturalism.

What’s one thing we should know about you?

My favourite colour is orange, although lime green is a close contender.

Greatest achievement so far?

I worked hard to become a fulltime artist and enjoy the creative freedom this allows - I am delighted to have achieved this goal.

And the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is making sure to get out of the studio and make the most of available opportunities – attending workshops, visiting galleries, participating in exhibitions and shows and of course networking. This is one of the reasons why being a member of Railway Street Artists is so valuable.

Best piece of advice you have received?

Have the confidence to paint your own story. Don’t overthink the work.

Do you have a day job?

Yes – painting!
Visit Railway Street Gallery or view on line here.


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