Adelaide artist Kirsty Martinsen looks back over an artistic and life journey through
Multiple Sclerosis as part of an exhibition at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.
“Hindsight is the ability to understand and realise something about an event after it has happened, although you did not understand or realise it at the time.” Collins English Dictionary.
Kirsty Martinsen’s career as an artist has been significantly influenced by her diagnosis with MS while on a scholarship at New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture around the turn of the millennium.
Her art practice has evolved in response to the many physical and emotional challenges she has encountered as a result of the disease. She now uses the wheels of her chair, mops and collaborations with other artists to create large-scale works, some of which will be exhibited at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital in December.
“Hindsight is delicious and extremely valuable,” Martinsen says. “The two drawings, Self Portrait 2008-18 and Make Me 2002-18 show a physical and emotional self that is gone.”
In Self Portrait 2008-18 a figure stands between a woman in a wheelchair and a wheelchair tyre print.
“This work incorporates elements of me from 2008 and before; It was my practice to paint a quick, one hour self portrait when I arrived at the studio in the morning and the standing figure is one of those; a self portrait in a wheelchair from 2015 drawn in charcoal on recycled watercolours and drawings; and the marks from my wheelchair tyres of 2018.”
As the world reeled in the aftershock of 9/11, Martinsen was diagnosed with MS. She says the work Make Me 2002-18, incorporates abstract painting from 2002 done with a broom and walked all over when her head was full of the war within her own body, attached to a drawing of tyre tracks from her wheelchair, boot prints and tyre tread.
“This is the past informing the present in a weirdly prophetic way. I can no longer make foot or boot prints and I use mops and brooms to paint with now, although with nowhere near the physical strength I did in 2002,” Martinsen says.
For Martinsen, hindsight has a way of simplifying what was in fact very complex.
“It’s very difficult when you’re at the beginning of a journey such as MS to know how to navigate it. And very easy with the benefit of hindsight to look back in judgement,” she says.
“Would I do things differently if I had my time again? No. And these drawings are testament to this.”
Recent work by Kirsty Martinsen
Community Gallery, Royal Adelaide Hospital
Monday, December 3 2018 to Thursday, January 24 2019
Celebrating International Day of People with Disability