A new series of large-scale paintings from Kirsty Whiten, depicting moments of family intimacy set in a psychedelic forest. Bare essential scenes with infants, beautiful and frightening in one breath, see us stripped of clothes and technology, bringing to mind apocalypse and the great ape ancestors.
These are people made of each other; the vulnerable, the intimate, the real, the true of families; of mothers, fathers, helpers, raisers of children, protectors, connectors.
Nature and Nurture; what’s natural, instinctual, innate. What will do for now. What will keep us safe.
These scenes of the mammalian pastoral are set to take our Victorian ideas of motherhood as selfless and self-sacrificial and show it awkward, raw: mother as a brimming cup. A woman in demand, and in danger.
The beauty and complexity of naturalistic, animalistic, instinctual behaviours.
Their commonplace involvement in everyday life.
The meaning they impart about our existence
The culmination of the years during which Whiten has been through the “raw and brilliant” process of creating a young family, the images that make up Feral Family seek to express an unspoken but profound experience at the core of family, and of human experience. These are her first nudes, and the first time the artist herself has been depicted; here with her baby daughter, here with female companions in cave. “This is because the work is so personal, all the models are close friends who have shared intimate family moments with me for the work.” says Whiten. The scenes are set into uncanny landscapes with rough-painted foliage, often showing glimpses of day-glo and jarring texture beneath, a sense of threat and epic narrative pressing in from outside the frame.
“I’ve thought so much about it since I have had my babies,” says Whiten, “Nature and Nurture; what’s natural, instinctual, innate. What’s best. What’ll do for now. What’ll keep us safe…”