ARTIST PROFILE: Kristina Kirkwood

Early morning walks through the Bruce Trail provide peace and tranquility for artist, Kristina Kirkwood.
“It's my Zen time ““ luckily I have the Bruce Trail near my home ““ I'm there at least an hour a day walking my dog,” says Kirkwood. Passionate about nature, Kirkwood looks forward to having the trail to herself, giving her a sense of solitude and time to survey the area for collectibles. Her mixed media paintings, lamps and sculptures have one thing in common: they are made of found objects.

“I find rocks, wood, buttons, thread or wool. I've used everything from whalebone to dog's teeth in my mixed media ““ it all depends on what I find,” says the Dundas resident.

Natural light streams through Kristina's large home studio that houses her collection of found objects. “I hold onto these for a while and without really being conscious about what I'm doing ““ I sort things in my mind,” she explains. “Maybe they are from a certain location or it's what they are made of and then I place them into project bins.”

One project, Oil Sands – Lost Caribou, a 36-inch by 48-inch, colourful acrylic painting is comprised of pebbles, gilding and thread that depicts Alberta's Woodland Caribou crisis.

“I'm not a political person, but this issue made me angry. I know it is a touchy subject ““ developing oil is a huge part of our economy and a huge part of the western province's identity, but it's hard not to make a negative comment. Environmentally it's very damaging,” she explains.

Kirkwood's fascination with biology led to a series made with broken glass. “Whenever I drive to one of the trails, there's always a huge pile in the parking lot where someone's car got broken into, I grab a baggy and pick it up. I don't use a lot of glass in any one painting, but it makes a beautiful sparkly sequin affect in the black paint that I've used in my images of cells.”

Kirkwood's work is on exhibit at the annual juried, “Arts on the Credit” at Waterside Inn, 15 Stavebank Road South, Mississauga, on Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12 from 11am to 5pm.

Her signature driftwood lamp collection is one of the highlights. “I'm always collecting bits and pieces for floor and table lamps. Inspiration comes from the pieces that I'm finding, like the colour in the texture and the gnarly lines in each branch,” she says.

Shades are formed from a base made of copper wire, so they are structurally sound and give off a warm glow that accentuates their unique shape and texture.

Also on display, Kirkwood's, “Driftwood Series,” muted tones of stones, pebbles, shells, fallen bark and driftwood she collected while visiting her brother-in-law at his Muskoka cottage.

“There used to be a lumber mill up the river, there's wood in the river from 150 years of being under water,” she says. “There are knots that pop out and wood that's all open that's been pulled up by water giving you those wonderful lines.”

Sculptures Little Wood Face and Wood Nymph are created from driftwood and paper mache carefully molded using a similar texture and mid-range tone blending flawlessly into the wood base.

Commissioned by private buyers, Kirkwood takes custom orders for those who want something similar to what she's made, in a scale or format that suits their specific location.

“I feel a sense of awe being around nature in the woods. It's that feeling of being surrounded by little animals crawling all around,” she says. “That's where I'm the happiest!”

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