Kirsty Buchanan

30th Aug 2018

Hi Kirsty, thanks so much for participating - we hope you're enjoying the coffee!

Thank you for the coffee and for inviting me to participate - and thank you Jenny. I love the paper.

1. Can you give us an introduction to your practice, interests and experience?


2. Tell us about your working processes, what are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am having a sort of hiatus - but it has been both agonising and valuable. But I’ve also been working on plenty of things. Such as, I’ve been using an 8mm camera to make films of various things and most recently I made a film of some ceramic figurines that I made in the sea. I am trying to work out how to film an octopus in London with the remainder of the film. I have also kept a book next to my bed, a bed book where I make a drawing when I wake up (or if i’m sleepy or drunk in the night) with the aim of drawing something that exists between sleeping and waking. It might be a dream, or a self portrait or something I see in the room. I have bad eyesight so most drawings are very scratchy and strangely composed. But very insightful and useful.

3. Talk us through your use of drawing, painting, film and performance - do you work with a preferrred medium in mind?

I tend to work in different mediums as a way of relieving myself from any miserable labour that might come from doing something.

Drawing = I am particularly interested in the libidinal element of drawing - so I love the sheer pleasure in drawing secretly or without an audience.

Film = I love that whenever I see something I love then I can record it as a moment somewhere especially on my metal computer box in my pocket - my phone. I also love the magic of moving image like green screen which still makes me so excited. I also feel that I make use of film as an extension of drawing and I like to think of my end films as collages.

Painting = I like the materiality of paint - especially water based paints. I like playing with scale and saturation.

Performance = It seems to be a natural part of my practice because I’m doing different things. It is not really intentional - I think maybe because I use myself in so many of my films it just happens.

4. You've exhibitied widely and participated in international residencies, how do you experience the London art scene relative to other places you have lived, worked or visited?

I'm a bit dis-enchanted with the London art 'scene' hence the hiatus but I love the city and my own scene of exceptional artists. I love to travel around and be in different places. I am very productive when I'm out of my comfort zone.

5. Can you reflect upon a pivotal work or project, one that has played a part in shaping your practice?

The drawing I made from a Joy of Sex book when I was about 8 years old.

6. Can you talk about the titles of your works; for example The Pollen Odour of Fresh Semen is in Itself an Aphrodisiac (part 1), the titles are works in and of themselves!

That particular title was from The Joy of Sex! I often take titles from phrases or lines n something that the work referenced. I can't ever leave a work "untitled".

7. Who, where or what has you feeling excited at the moment? Who, where or what has you feeling concerned at the moment?

Things that make me excited at the moment (and concerned)

Ghost stories
Women with supernatural powers
Women Artists with supernatural powers
Hildegard von Bingen
Joan of Arc
Cave paintings
Female inmates in Holloway prison
Women holding the decapitated head of a man
Forgotten muses
Saint Lucy and her plate with her eyeballs on it
Unassuming women
Medieval tapestries - The Devonshire tapestries
Ancient temple prostitutes
Secret letters
The shroud of Turin
My bed
Making lists
Domestic ways of working
A chromatic diet - arranging my meals so that they are the same colour
Blue (colour)
Swimming pools
Rock pools
The sea
Sheela na gig

8. How important is collaboration in informing your practice? Can you reflect on your working relationship with Clara Drummond?


9. Could you tell us more about bringing historical female perspectives into the present day, for example, Clara Drumond?

Collaboration is very important to my practice.

With Clara Drummond, I would sit for portraits and we would talk about everything. Concerns, books, our work, anxieties about work, artists, films, exhibitions, lovers, inspiration. At one point we discussed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood extensively. There was an exhibition on at Tate where I work and I also thoroughly enjoyed the cheesy TV show called desperate Romantics.

As usual things kept coming up in relation to what we were talking about, including the opportunity to do an exhibition at the William Morris Society in Hammersmith. We also wrote to each other and recorded our ideas and thoughts, which was such a good thing to do because we were working with their archive which had a lot of notes and letters from May Morris and other members of The Woman’s Guild which was set up by her and her fellow artist Mary Elizabeth Turner. There is something really fertile about taking pen and paper and writing out thoughts. Exactly like i’m doing now. There is also an interesting history (or herstory) of female artists posting letters and drawings and collages to each other which I want to explore further. The accessibility and scope for creativity is so useful I also think this might answer your other question about bringing historical female perspectives into the present day.

Even the most influential, powerful and important women in history often get forgotten. If we don’t make the effort to remember those women and rediscover their perspective and their voice then how can we expect anyone to do the same for us in the future?

I like to imagine myself as part of a universal sisterhood that defies the laws of time and taking the time to consider women from the past and empathising with their positions is important for that. They are usually voiceless, evil, dangerous or difficult. Which of course doesn’t make any sense at all and when you find out more about individual women then you discover there has always been some slander against them.

10. If you had unlimited access to resources and funding, is there a piece or project hat you would like to realise?

If I had unlimited resources and funding, I would put on an exhibition under the sea. Possibly at the bottom of the Irish Sea but I think warmer climates would be more pleasant for the audience and the light would be more sympathetic to the work. I would actually love to put on an exhibition in a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. I would find a way to project films which I think would have an amazing quality because the way the light would diffuse.

I would like to place ancient statues amongst the works, so there is a reference to shipwrecks containing a load of precious artworks such as the Fran Maria which was transporting newly acquired artwork to Catherine The Great in Russia, or Lady Emma Hamilton’s husband who was a collector of ancient objects, transporting them by ship and it was also shipwrecked. I could even exhibit the work in that exact shipwreck (after finding it) or an ancient sunken city.

I would love to incorporate sound - folk songs or sea shanties. I would exhibit clay sculptures and paintings on fabric that move with the sea current. Would probably be better if it was in shallower water so it can be enjoyed whilst swimming over it. Can also be viewed by scuba diving - or a submarine.

Thank you again. I really enjoyed the interview and the coffee x


Kirsty Buchanan is an Artist based in London. You can find them on Instagram @kirstygraces and her website