Artist Interview | Kirsty Boutle


Art Scotland / Article 734 Views

Kirsty Boutle is an artist using drawing, painting and sculpture as a material interrogation of the body.

What drives your passion – when did you know that art is what you wanted to do?
I’ve always made art in some form or other. I applied to art college when I was 19 and never took up the place – I can’t remember why. My life took a different path, then one afternoon in 2007, over a large glass of wine in my friends back garden, I decided it was time to become an artist, I started my BA in 2008 and here I am. I think it’s compulsion that drives me, it doesn’t feel like passion, to be honest. Although I do deeply care about it. It’s become a way of living and being in and with the world that I’d find very hard to disentangle myself from now.

How did you get where you are now in your career?
It’s difficult to say whether my career has even started yet (or how I might measure when and whether it had in our current time).

Formal art education (which I finished in 2011) took some getting over. It was an invaluable and wonderful time, but I needed a period of detoxification from all the convoluted thinking and talking about my work. I don’t think it was until I was truly alone with my work that I really started to fine-tune my own sensibilities, and began to understand what the hell it was that I might be trying to get at or to through my practice.

It’s taken time but it feels as though the conceptual and aesthetic integrity of the work is starting to knit together now. The last year or so has been really good in regards exhibitions, residencies etc, and things seem to be taking on a bit of momentum in that regard.

What do you make and what are the ideas behind what you make?
My practice consists of drawing, painting and sculpture. The primary concern of the work is how we experience life in, on and through a body in relation to other bodies – existence as a series of visceral exchanges with other human and non-human forms and forces and the potency of that which transmits the language that comes before thought.

Lately, I’ve become increasingly curious about how our digitised existence may be affecting our bodies. The rhythm of our flesh and the rhythm of daily life are at odds with one another, language and bodies are becoming increasingly standardised and we are morphing into very bizarre creatures indeed – both on material and immaterial levels. As such, the completed works have a surreal edge, they’re not necessarily overtly human, instead, I hope for them to transmit or evoke visceral reactions and/or emotions through their otherworldly forms.

Ultimately, I’m aiming for them to offer something of the strangeness of our current aesthetics, the ineffability of a language that exists before thought and the limitless possibilities of the body as a site of violently joyful actualisation.

What inspires you?
Words, images, living and non-living entities.  Anything that offers or explores something of the strangeness and complexity of bodily relations within the world of forms and living beings, and the inescapable potency of the language/force of the body.

Where do you work? What is your average working day?
I rent a studio in Edinburgh. An average day there starts with a cup of tea (often next to the radiator) then I’ll start work, sometimes for a couple of hours, sometimes it’s a long day. I try not to get pissed off when things don’t flow and take advantage of the times when lots of work seems to come from nowhere. I’ve never been able to work with any real consistency, I gave up trying to be a production line, that didn’t work for me. The thing I aim to do consistently is show up, even if sometimes it’s just to tidy up a bit and sit with the work.

What are you working on now?
I’m making a couple of large sculptures for Bonkers Contemporary, a group show that will be at the Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh this October. They’re composed of found, readymade materials combined with handmade elements. One is a four-legged creature and the other a totem-crucifix, they both have the head of a blow-up doll, adorned with unicorn-type horns.

In what way does being Scottish/being in Scotland influence your work?
I came to Scotland in 2011 to do an MFA at the Edinburgh College of Art. I’d not intended to stay, but have still not left.

As far as I’m aware there’s not any overt, direct influence on my work. But, I’m here, I’m making art and have made Scotland my home, it’s a great place to live and a great place to be an artist. That’s influence enough for me.

See more of Kirsty’s work at
Twitter: @kirstyboutle
Instagram: @kirstyboutle

Bonkers Contemporary 2017 opens on 5 October at The Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh.

Kirsty Boutle, Dirty Parsnip at a Donkey Disco, 2016

Kirsty Boutle, Dirty Rotten Little Carrot, 2016

Kirsty Boutle, Nurse, 2016

Kirsty Boutle, The Unicorn with Two Horns, 2016

Feature image: Kirsty Boutle, Visceral Absurdities, 2016 (installation view)