These lithographs were commissioned by Edinburgh Printmakers for Kirsty Whiten’s solo exhibition Breeder Badlands in 2012. The exhibition dealt with the complexities of the new familial unit. Artist Statement “In...
These lithographs were commissioned by Edinburgh Printmakers for Kirsty Whiten’s solo exhibition Breeder Badlands in 2012. The exhibition dealt with the complexities of the new familial unit.
“In the images that make up Breeder BadlandsI seek to express an unspoken but profound experience at the core of family, and of human experience. I wanted to make work about my experience of having children, and observations I made of my friends and comrades during this time. Not cute or sentimental images, but definitely exploring the intimacy and responsibility of parenting which I found alarming, thrilling, claustrophobic, and painfully beautiful.
I kept imagining these tight-knit groups in natural settings, and I realised that these could be really quite abstract, functioning like the blank backgrounds I have often used in my work to isolate subjects and hold them up for scrutiny. It took a little courage to hold back from finely finishing these scenes, and keep them rough, but I stopped as soon as it seemed right.
I thought a lot about my ancestors. How other humans had raised their offspring and survived in unimaginable circumstances. I wanted the figures to be somehow ancient and contemporary, and I worried about how to make it happen. In the end there was no need to worry, it is clear that the people in my images do not live naked, they are too soft and well fed, their haircuts give them away. I tried to minimise their vulnerability and exposure by catching them in robustly connected poses, or ready to run. I tried to give a sense of epic narrative pressing in from outside the frame.
I hope these images do make people feel aware of the unbroken connection through human evolution. It is a deeply important and often misunderstood idea.
Working on the lithographs after the set of large-scale canvases was really interesting. It felt kind-of backwards, homing in on the figures I’d already depicted, singling them out again, but I felt I knew these poses, I had discovered the icons among them and this lent a deliberate touch and confidence to the drawing. There’s nothing tentative about printmaking, you have to really mean it to go through the whole process.
During the co-publishing project at Edinburgh Printmakers, I feel I’ve found my way in printmaking. The detail and focus of the drawings on the stones have deepened the themes in the paintings. Through the input of Master Printer Alastair Clark and others in the studio, the marks and confidence in my work have been brought on as much as the technique, and this affinity with Lithography is securely embedded as part of my practice.”
Kirsty Whiten, 2012
Kirsty Whiten has exhibited internationally and been involved with numerous projects throughout her artistic career. Her distinctive drawings and paintings have earned a year's residency in Paris, numerous awards and bursaries and been exhibited as far afield as Cologne, Den Haag, Austria and Melbourne.
Whiten initially gained notice for her warped large-scale portrait paintings and highly detailed photorealistic drawings, but her work has diversified in recent years to include performance, publishing and photography. Her solo exhibition 'Trophy' at StolenSpace in August 2007 showcased her first ever sculptures – finely crafted masturbation samplers - and will be followed by another in late March - boy meets girl, girl ties boy to donkey....