News : 2018

"Kirsty Templeton Davidge in Vue Weekly online: Edmonton Artist Embraces Challenges with “Common Threads” Exhibition"
Chelsea Novak

Kirsty Templeton Davidge Focuses on the Hard Stuff


Kirsty Templeton Davidge’s artistic career got a late start, so she says she doesn’t have time to mess around. That might explain why her latest work—showing as Common Threads at the Peter Robertson Gallery—focuses in on some of the most challenging aspects of figurative painting.


On her website, Davidge describes her recent work as “cropped perspectives of the human form,” and each piece offers what the viewer could recognize as a cropped version of a more traditional portrait that zooms in on details like hands, feet, and clothing. 


“It’s focusing in on this one thing, and … what does that mean? What does that say?” she explains.


Davidge is from Toronto, and attended the Toronto School of Art after high school, but then she says “life started: I got married, I had babies, and yeah, it was just all about life.” She returned to school in 2011, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts at the University of Alberta, and convocating with her son in 2015. 


Since then, she has shown her work several times—twice before at the Peter Robertson Gallery, in other Edmonton galleries, in Toronto, and in Cincinnati, where her work was awarded Best in Show.


Davidge says she has always loved the human form—it was her focus even at the Toronto School of Art.


“But honestly,” she says, “I was terrible.”


You’d never guess that, looking at her work just seven years after she returned to painting—and her ardent desire to grow as an artist is not only evident from her work, but her attitude.


“I have a really strong work ethic, and I’m not wasting any time here because I’ve got a really late start,” Davidge says. “I’m 53 and time’s a tickin’; let’s get going.”


She attributes the quality of her current work to practice and putting in the hours needed to improve. Davidge also isn’t afraid of a challenge—she started painting clothing because she hated painting drapery in school.


“I hated it because it’s so hard, and that’s why, too, I moved to hands and feet. For me, I love painting faces. Face are like dessert,” she says. “So then I decided I would take away the dessert, and I’m just going to have to do the meat and the potatoes.”


Taking on the challenge was important for Davidge to reach her goals as an artist. She heard that portrait prizes, such as the The Kingston Prize and BP Portrait Award, required mastery of both faces and hands, so she decided to force herself to get better at “the hard stuff.”


Her paintings start with trips to second hand stores, where she tries to find pieces of clothing that speak to her, or tell a story. She then has her models pose for photographs, which she works off of.


Conceptually, most of the paintings show only part of the subject, which Davidge relates to interpersonal relationships. 


“We all think we know people, especially people who are close to us—we really know them—but we know what they give us,” she says. “And everybody has something that they keep to themselves. It’s just theirs and they don’t share even with their spouse or their most intimate partners.”


Davidge is also interested in beauty, but says beauty isn’t pretty. Some of her paintings reflect this by including wasps buzzing around or crawling on the subject.


“Beauty has elements of things that were difficult, things that hurt,” she says. “So the wasps in there kind of talk to that a little bit—about the unpredictability of relationships, and life on the whole. That it’s not all easy, and beautiful, and pretty.”


The models in Davidge’s paintings repeat, and she’s interested in whether or not people are able to recognize when it’s the same model. She also says that her models are all connected, which informs the exhibition’s title, Common Threads.


Now that she’s arguably mastered hands, feet and fabrics, Davidge says she has a tendency to complete everything in a portrait, but would like to move toward letting “some things drop” and letting “other things rise more.” Her current work offers some examples of this, and as she plans to return to the studio again after a short break, we may soon see more from this driven artist.


Common Threads
Sept. 6 – 23
Opening Reception Thu., Sept. 6, 7-9 p.m.
Peter Robertson Gallery


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