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Name: Kirsty Whiten
Instagram: @kirstywhitenstudio
Land: Skotland

Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.

I am Kirsty Whiten, an artist from Scotland. I make drawings and paintings about people, using bodies and figures to tell stories and challenge viewers' expectations. My paintings look and feel alive - they contain the energy of the life and presence of my subjects, and I like an element of discomfort to be there, to spark questions and reactions. I use bright colour and detail to draw people in and create impact.

I make small, detailed paintings, life size oil paintings and large murals in public spaces.

Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?

I have been so fired by feminist thought and feeling, to create artwork that tells an honest and raw story of female existence and identity. It has felt so important and powerful to be part of that wider discussion and movement, and it has fuelled me to take risks and be bold. It has been essential to make empowerment visible.

Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?

I love so many female artists; Paula Rego, Kathë Kollwitz, Frida Kahlo, Nan Goldin, Marlene Dumas, Maria Lasnig, Dorothea Tanning, Ana Mendieta, Alice Neel, Robin F Williams and so many more. All these artists explore life through storytelling with the body – the creaturely existence of women - and what can be said with the language of the body about everything that is going on, the layers underneath, the psychology and emotional life, sexuality, and identity. There is nothing apologetic about their work.

I am currently working with a wonderful performance artist from Copenhagen, Linh Le (@linhle_explorer) who is a powerful muse for me – using training in Butoh dance and an incredible instinct to become nature in the wild.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a female artist? 

I think I’ve had to overcome people-pleasing tendencies, which are a part of female social conditioning. This has meant I’ve not been as assertive and forward pushing as I needed to be at times. I’m working on this in my 45th year – being in my power – and it feels as if that’s what this stage of life is about for many women…

I think that the impact on my career of having two children has been huge – even though their father is very engaged, and we try to share the balance of the family life – mothering is just a huge work of life. I sometimes struggle with this (and I don’t really believe there is a balance that holds it all at once – I have to keep moving priorities). But I wouldn’t change my involvement with my children for anything. 

What would you like people to notice in your artwork?

I would love people to see new possibilities for themselves, and acceptance of others in the identities I explore in my work. I try to share a message of liberation and empowerment.

Each Monday we bring you a fresh interview with an exciting female artist.