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Kimberley Burrows Collaboration
I'm Kimberley Burrows, an abstract expressionist artist from Greater Manchester. I'm blind after double-retinal detachment in late 2018 and currently studying my master’s degree in painting at the Royal College of Art in London.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Primarily, I use my painting practice as a form of self-healing and as a therapy tool for complex trauma. Painting has become the vehicle where I can express far beyond the barrier of words alone. Through gestural mark-making I'm able to convey my emotions, make sense of them, and resolve inner conflicts that I face with the responsibilities and stresses of anxiety, isolation and disability. Inspiration often comes from music. I'm very mindful of what I play while I'm painting, influenced greatly by my mood, and I interpret those soundscapes. Life as a blind person, and everything that comes with that - hardship, personal successes, difficult conversations - also inspires my work.
How do you create your pieces?
My paintings are usually always acrylic on canvas or oil on canvas. The process is rather organic and sometimes spontaneous. I paint when it feels like there is a space to create something new, when there is an answer I'm searching for. A painting is completed in under a few hours, in one sitting, with no breaks to capture a very realistic snapshot of movement. The primary focus is to frame a feeling in a very authentic way without overthinking or planning too much.
How did you become an artist?
Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The creative process always felt like the natural extension of myself. Both of my retinas detached halfway through my illustration degree, and I could no longer see to create the digital drawings that formed my practice of becoming a children's book illustrator. In my darkest moments of isolation, I turned to abstract painting and found that it set off the fireworks that were dormant inside.Blindness has changed the way that I create, but has perhaps made the output more authentic, precious, symbolic and meaningful than ever before.
Colour is a huge part of your pieces; how do you interpret colour and know what works well together?
I would select 3/4 paints at random, from a very limited palette, that often worked together rather well when layered. I use apps on my iPhone to help me understand which colours I have available and which I have chosen. My knowledge of colour theory is deeply embedded from many years of study so I already automatically know what works together harmoniously and what doesn't - but won't discard a shade in favour of something else if I've already picked it up. I like to be experimental, playful and curious.
Who is your icon?
There are many iconic women that I look to in my life for empowerment and encouragement. Perhaps cliché to some, but Helen Keller has been a huge source of support during times of great struggle and hardship in my journey as a blind woman. Also, artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell, who each have their individual, outstanding practice, were often marginalised because of their gender in a very male-dominated setting.Through a personal lens, my mum and my grandmother are my icons for setting the foundation of a strong work ethic in me. I am who I am today because of them both and the values they instilled in me.