My ART | Artist: Kirstin Carlin

What do you do?

I am an artist/painter, regular op shop visitor, amateur tennis player, gardener and mum living in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Mainly I make oil paintings, sometimes very small and more recently much larger that take their point of departure from recognisable subject matter, such as a well-known landscape painting or opshop still life and translate them into collections of quick, loose, and carefree brushstrokes using lots of playful colours.

Currently, I have a solo exhibition exhibited at Melanie Roger Gallery which runs until May 31. The incredible Melanie Roger has kindly allowed me to hand-paint the gallery walls in a washy blue.  As soon I finished painting the walls I was amazed by the instant sensation of the feeling of standing inside a painting!  I am super happy with this exhibition including my newer larger scale works and urge people in Tāmaki Makaurau to see it in person!

What images are pinned to your studio wall?

Expanding the question to all things on my studio wall: a small printout of Henri Matisse’s La Japonaise au bord de l’eau, a very early example of his work. Four embroideries based on each of the seasons found at the Ōwairaka market, a Cat Fooks poster from an exhibition at Anna Miles Gallery, a collection of paintings found in op shops including a beautiful watercolour of a house reflected in a river and a wonky sailboat. A recent oil on cardboard study / of my own, a collage made of a felt rainbow on a vintage postcard made during my time studying in Glasgow, an old magazine page advertising an Emma Fitts exhibition at Melanie Roger Gallery, a postcard from Saskia Leek’s 2013 Desk Collection exhibition, many print outs of my own earlier but recent paintings, small paintings by my son and nieces plus much more.

The first artwork that made an impact on you?

Very early in the final year of my undergrad degree I discovered the work of American painter Karen Kilimnik through her book Paintings, first published in 2001. Karen Kilimnik’s paintings really spoke to me and were very influential to the work I made for my graduate show and beyond.  I eventually saw her work in “the flesh” in Paris and New York. A nice change from seeing it in the pages of a (albeit beautiful) book.

Who is your ideal studio buddy?

My studio is very close to home – an ex-furniture maker’s workshop behind our neighbour’s house, I get there through a gate in the fence. As I am so close to home I am able to have the best studio buddy – my black cat Lenny.  Lenny is big and cuddly (overweight) and very food-focused. We got him about four years ago from a shelter in Albany where he was routinely ignored according to the staff because of his all black coat.  Lenny likes to sniff around my paintings while in my studio, steal my comfy chair and follow me home to the kitchen to meow for cat biscuits – a perfect studio buddy.

An artist (living or dead) you would like to meet?

Frances Hodgkins or Joan Mitchell – two super cool ladies with attitude highly dedicated to their practices in particularly male-dominated eras.

I feel like I really “got to know” Frances Hodgkins during the time I spent researching toward the exhibition Through the Trees, at the Dunedin Art Gallery in 2017. I was given the opportunity to choose works in the DPAG collection to hang alongside my own in the dedicated Frances Hodgkin’s Wing. Of course, I painted the walls bright pink! I would love to the chance to sit down and chat with her about her painting, travels and life in general (which sounded tough).

I would happily time travel to the 1970s to spend time with Joan Mitchell and her dogs in her garden in Vétheuil, France.

I would also like to sit down with a cup of tea with artist/poet/author Etel Adnan.

Photo credit: Yasmine Ganley