04 Feb Featured: Kirsten Beets
Aurora, an illustration exhibition currently showing at Salon91, is divided into four sub-exhibitions by four female illustrators. One of the collections on show is Kirsten Beets’ Sweet Belongings.
Kirsten’s arts career began when she studied a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art at Stellenbosch University, after which she enrolled in a 3D Animation course at The Animation School in Woodstock, Cape Town. As a child of the ’80s and early ’90s, Kirsten says she was heavily influenced by comics, cartoons and Disney, and so the thought of making her pictures move, speak and take on a life of their own was compelling.
After studying animation she went on to work at a post-production company and it was during this time that she learnt to really look at what makes an object appear realistic in terms of its shine, shadow and texture.
After two years Kirsten left the computers and went back to Stellenbosch University and back to pencil and paper to gain a Bphil in illustration.
Kirsten describes Sweet Belongings as a collection of her experiences of people, places and things over the past three years. She says, “Initially I started investigating animals in my immediate domestic situation. Animals are disappearing in an environmental sense due to endangerment and extinction but they have always been a constant companion for me in the form of toys and figurines. I collected and corralled the animal paraphernalia that had survived my childhood and began painting them in detail.
Initially I painted them individually, categorizing my various toys into species and recording them for posterity like an explorer. As I continued with this process I no longer singled them out, but became more interested in how they related to one another in a group or collection.
During a recent residency in Venice, I continued my search for animal life in the city, but mostly came up short – the only ‘wild’ creatures were already stuffed and on display in the Natural History Museum. Considering the tourists of Venice to be a type of quasi-wildlife, I took to observing people and how they interacted with nature in a recreational way.”
Kirsten says she thinks of her illustrations as fragments of memory captured in a tangible form. By rendering them in minute detail with oil paint, she adds value and a rich depth to seemingly meaningless or cheap objects, elevating their significance and making them touchstones of memory. She says, “For me, my work embodies the notion of nostalgia and the desire to collect and keep safe the memories evoked by experiences.”
Find more at www.kirstenbeets.com