1985 – Foundation Course at Wimbledon School of Art
Here I gained comprehensive experience in many forms of art from sculpture to printmaking, graphic design and theatre design as well as painting, textiles and photography. I decided to specialise in painting and also spent hours in the wonderful darkroom there. At the end of the year I was also awarded the prize for drawing.
1986-1989 – BA Hons Fine Art at North East London Polytechnic, now the University of East London
Here I continued to develop my painting, working mainly in oils and on large canvases, averaging at about 10 x 8 feet which although is a very liberating scale to paint on, though it’s not so great transporting it on top of a mini clubman! I was located in Plaistow and then Stratford in the East End of London with some great friends and inspiration around me. They were very happy days.
Much of my subject matter explored the abstraction of the surrounding industrial landscape and in particular how nature was reclaiming vast areas of disused sites. The hidden beauty of the old docklands and factories seemed almost alchemic, as lichen, rust and moss gradually softened and transformed the hard constructed lines. I was particularly struck by the brutal, dynamic structures, textures and colours. The area of course has had a rebirth in the last few decades and is now almost unrecognisable. Little did I know too that I’d be married to one of my oldest friends who I met on the course thirty years later and my life too would be transformed. I particularly remember the magnificence of an acid plant at West Ham, London when I was an art student. It’s sizable construction was clearly visable from the tube train and had to be viewed at night, when the entire factory would be illuminated with the most amazing neon blue. It was truly spectacular; skeletal and fragile somehow. As Henri Matisse noted ‘A certain blue enters your soul.’ and yes, even in an old acid plant in the East End of London I found awe and wonder next to a train track. My final thesis, I researched the symbolic and cathartic connotations of the colour red, focusing particularly on the life and works of Mark Rothko and Edvard Munch.
My recent paintings explore the beauty of our stunning landscape and coastline. Colour, of course has always been central to my work and is what really moves me. The fantastic array of hues found hidden in the landscape and in the water are gripping and I love to think of pigments to best describe them as I pass by and then explore these back in the studio. I’m drawn to the wonderfully organic forms and textures that nature provides too, together with the juxtaposition of human intervention; tracks, fields, boundaries, paths. My work focuses on these contrasts, pushing pigments and marks to evoke a real sense of emotion and to make the subject resonate. I love the thrill of applying paint to canvas, with bold washes and thick textured brush marks evoking a real sense of immediacy and excitement, seeking to capture that first glimpse of a stunning view and to impart that feeling of awe to the viewer. I like to think my paintings are fearless. I take risks with them at all stages of their development, in order to seek that balance between complete freedom and control. I use a lot of water and am endlessly experimenting with different media and ideas.
I am also very fortunate to work in collaboration with my husband, Stephen. Here I indulge my absolute love of drawing and am always thrilled by the unexpected images that result in sharing a piece of paper with him. It reinforces our trust in each other and the freedom in the marks we make together; there is little room for preciousness. This approach has also informed my own work, as it enables me to take a further step back somehow, to be more objective and to embrace the unpredictable. To view our collaborative paintings, please visit our website thekirins.com