Cornwall Contemporary 1 Parade Street, Penzance

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Kristin Vestgard 'The Red String'

12th October - 5th November 2016


Born in Norway in 1976, Kristin Vestgard studied art at the Nordfjord Folk High School until 1996 and then at Oslo Painting and Drawing school. A Fine Art degree followed at Falmouth College of Art, where she graduated in 1997. Three years later her studies culminated in a sell-out degree show. She continued to live in Cornwall for a further ten years, with her paintings becoming increasingly sought after by collectors across the UK. A return to her native Norway has seen Kristin further develop the dreamlike and ethereal characters that live in her paintings and she has exhibited at various galleries in London, Cornwall, Norway and Denmark. Her exceptional studies are quintessentially Nordic and can be found in many private collections worldwide as well as being held in the Falmouth College of Art collection.

Why did you decide to study at Falmouth College of Art and then subsequently chose to remain here for so long? I was attending an art school in Oslo and I saw the prospectus for Falmouth college of arts, and I immediately knew it was the right place for me to study. It was the only place I applied, I had no back up, I got in and it was just perfect for me – the school, the place and the people.

At my degree show in 2000 I got invited to exhibit in Cornwall and London, I also had my first solo show in Norway the year after. I got invited to exhibit further in these galleries, and more and more people started following my work and I got established as a painter and managed to make a living from my work, the last 16 years have been incredibly busy for me as an artist.

How did living in Cornwall affect your painting? It gave me fantastic space, landscape, paths, flowers, light, ocean, music and poetry to rest my mind upon…it is unique.

What prompted the return to Norway? After ten years living in Falmouth and Penzance I moved back to my native Norway, to a small town called Åsgårdstrand. This town is famous for Edvard Munch’s summer house. He used to spend his summers here in a tiny ochre coloured wooden house down by the sea. It is a museum now, and one can visit, it is pretty intact how he left it. It is a small seaside town.

I wanted to be closer to my family, that urge continued to grow stronger during my last years in Cornwall. I did not leave with a light heart, I love cornwall, it is my second home and I feel lucky I got to spend ten years of my life in this beautiful magical place.

Has your work changed since returning to Norway? I see changes in my work, it evolves and changes with me, a little bit at a time, the landscape where my work comes from is within me. Often I understand and see changes years after the paintings were made, and I can see why I painted this and that. I’m not sure if I see major changes every day within my work but there are little changes. My paintings are not influenced by the country I live in, they come from another landscape beyond the physical I think, but what is important to me, is that I thrive in my life whether it is where I live or my surroundings.

Where does your inspiration come from? Processing the everyday, life and death, I try figuring out a balance. It is an intuitive process, allowing chaos to happen, finding the red string, obtaining a certain kind of atmosphere is vital.

Are your figures real people? They come from my imagination, they are half in the dream world and half in the real world. I think they are a concoction of many faces, and mine, I try figuring out why I paint these figures, but I have decided to just let them have their secrets. It is like they want to come out that way and I just have to let them be, but they make sense, a lot of sense. It is what happens between the lines, after thoughts and reflection, and making poetry.   

Where do they come from? That is a mystery to me as well, I can not put that into words where they come from, but it makes so much sense to paint them, they do manifest an existence…I think that is important to me.

What motivates you to paint figuratively? I like playing with figures, and their faces and their bodies, the way they place themselves in an atmosphere and what they quietly speak about, it is difficult for sure, but it draws me in, it is almost a mystery to me, also I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was a teenager, I love wrapping them up, playing with that aesthetic.

Your work is ethereal and dreamlike, is that a conscious decision, or do they just end up that way? I don’t want my work feel pinned down or stuck, I want them to be in a flux like moment. I keep painting until they have the right atmosphere, and it must be a gentle balance of being both here and not here – fleeting but with a nerve. To have a playfulness running in and out of the layers of oil paint, with a deep sincere essence holding it together. To me my paintings hold many secrets…and I like it that way. It gives them space to breathe and live their own lives; just like people…they have a sea of secrets too.

Are you influenced by other artists? Not really. At art school I used to look at Emil Nolde’s ’Forbidden Paintings’ a lot. I do look at art on the internet everyday, and I see so many inspiring elements in so many places, and I forget to write names down. I find inspiration in many places, as much as looking at artists I love, as listening to film makers and their processes and musicians.

What is your day like as a painter? I wake up around 7 and after bringing my daughter to school for 8.30, I head straight to my studio, with the radio and a flask of coffee and work until around 2 o’clock when I pick my daughter up again, and in really busy times I paint in the evenings too. I work very focused in those hours, and they are precious now that I dont have the day and evening at my disposal anymore. I’m in the studio every day of the week, even Saturdays and Sundays.

What is the process for you – do you sketch first, do you have a very definite idea of what the finished painting will look like? Sometimes I have a vague idea of what I want to paint, but mostly I paint out of chaos, and intuition, but I do have an essence in the background which is the red string that follows through everything I paint.

The new solo exhibition of paintings by Kristin Vestgard can be seen at Cornwall Contemporary gallery in Penzance from 12th October until the 5th November. This highly anticipated solo show showcases the new collection of paintings by this respected figurative painter and is an exhibition not to miss.


There is a 3 page feature on Kristin Vestgard in the October/ November issue of My Cornwall Magazine which talks to the artist about her work and her exhibition at Cornwall Contemporary.

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Cornwall Contemporary
1 Parade Street
Queens Square
TR18 4BU

Telephone: 01736 874749

opening times:
Monday - Saturday  10 - 5

Gallery Director:
Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge

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