Kiran McKinnon


Kiran McKinnon is an abstract painter who lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau. She studied in London, UK and Auckland, NZ, gaining an MFA (1st class hons) from the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland. 

Her work engages with experience and memory, particularly of the sensations of the natural world. Her work ranges from large-scale immersive paintings and installations to smaller more intimately scaled works on watercolour paper. Her unique processes of painting in acrylic on raw canvas involves spray, wash, wet on wet brushwork, and large quantities of water. The painting process weathers the canvas, mimicking in many ways the ephemeral processes the paintings invoke. Recent works have extended her use of water to include painting with sea water and rain water collected around Aotearoa.

"Water and weather are often at the centre of the places and experiences in the world that capture my attention, and thus find their way into my work. Rivers, lakes, the sea, rain, clouds, mist, all find reference in my work, and their echo in the methods I use to paint; misting, spraying and washing of water and paint across the canvas.

I am also fascinated by the interplay between the language and ideas of composition in classical music and painting. With RNZ Concert as my constant studio companion I listen not only to some beautiful music, but also to many interviews with musicians and composers. In these interviews I am often struck by the descriptions both give of their practice and works, and by how deeply those ideas resonate with my own thoughts on painting. Both ways of interpreting and translating sensations, images, or ideas from one form to another, or perhaps more particularly from sensation or perception, into form.”

McKinnon was a merit award winner in the Estuary Art and Ecology Awards in 2023, and a finalist in 2018. She has been a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2019, 2020. She has works held by the University of Auckland Art Collection, The Art House Trust, and various private collections throughout New Zealand and abroad. 

Selected Media.

  1. Classical Music Brings Focus and Joy to Artist Kiran McKinnon
    Radio New Zealnd interview
  2. Paint Like a Girl
    Kiran McKinnon, Artist text
  3. Floodlines
    Julian McKinnon