Favourite Things: Artist Paris Kirby

Paris Kirby lives in a space shaped by her art practice and love of nature

Artist Paris Kirby. Picture / Guy Coombes.

Artist Paris Kirby lives and works from a lofty studio in Birkenhead. The space itself acts as a blank canvas for her practice, with walls and the artist’s purpose built furniture both painted in ‘gallery white’.

“My art production and research bring in bold colour and detail to the environment. I don’t own a lot of unnecessary things as I always need a lot of space for art and research, which tends to grow and take over the space over time. The space is always in constant change as my research evolves.”

Her work is closely connected to nature, particularly New Zealand’s native bush. So it’s not surprising that, in an ideal world, the artist would love her space to be situated in the middle of the bush with a panoramic view of the canopy.

“There is an increasing divide between the natural world and the urban centres in which we live, and for a city dweller, knowledge of our world is filtered through layers of mediated images; often at the expense of a direct and authentic sensory experience.”

Kirby’s first solo exhibition Super-Natural is open at Depot Artspace in Devonport until July 9. Her paintings meticulously tap into the interaction between the natural world and the artificial.


Masking tape; Silk fabric; Indoor plants. Pictures / Guy Coombes.

1. Lightbox
It is the most useful and versatile piece of furniture in my studio. This lightbox was originally made by my dad when I was a child as a couch and then in later years it was repurposed into a lightbox. It functions as a coffee table, a lightbox in the studio to assist me with working on images, and also as a backlit sign for events when standing upright. I often paint the sides and change the colour of the perspex to get different light effects and change up the design of the room.

2. Carved mushrooms by Maslen and Mehra
These mushrooms were made by my sister and her husband, who are collaborative artists living in the UK. Last year I visited them and was gifted two mushrooms at one of their exhibitions. They are a part of a larger body of accumulative sculptural work, with an extensive variety of mushrooms and penises disguised as mushrooms. They are hand carved out of wood and the heads painted with camo patterns. The objects speak about the notion of nature verses military, and questions what is the more powerful force in the bigger picture.

Lightbox; Carved mushrooms by Maslen and Mehra. Picture / Guy Coombes.

3. Masking tape
Masking tape is the most versatile consumable product to have around the home and studio. I love to use it to stick things to my wall and make a statement of it. For a long time, I have used it to stick up photos, research, found objects, receipts, leaves and branches. Ripped tape alludes to a sense of work in progress. It’s great because it doesn’t damage the wall, it generally can fit around any object and things can be taken down and put up easily, for whatever is relevant at the time.

4. Silk fabric
This is a 10m length of silk crepe de chine that I hand painted. It was a performative experience to paint such a large piece of fabric which is all in tonal greens to imitate the depths of the bush. I love having this excess fabric around to play with when I’m feeling expressive. It has multi-functions around my home, I use it as cover for my couch or bed, as an artwork, I cut bits off as I need it for making ribbons, wrapping gifts or adding a scarf to my outfit. I collaborated with Kristine Crabb (Miss Crabb) to make a dress out of it to wear to the Venice Biennale last year.

5. Indoor plants
I enjoy sharing my space with other living beings, nurturing them as if they are a pet. I find contemplating the pace that they live and how they have come to be is calming and regenerative. It gives the space a sense of tranquillity, beauty and regeneration and provides me with fresh oxygen.

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