Kirstin Carlin


How to look at a painting…

Modest in size and painted in oil on board or aluminium, what is most evident in each work by Kirstin Carlin is a direct use of paint and a loose technique. Small impasto paintings manifest quick, thick and heavy applications of paint, energetic daubs are the traces of intuition, freedom and a heavily loaded brush. Taking as her points of departure recognisable subject matter and tested pictorial devices, Carlin pushes these further. Concentrating on simple formal components such as the placement of elements within space, these found images are translated into collections of quick, loose, and insouciant brushstrokes with both pale and brighter colours. Pushing and dissolving the image to various degrees, each painting moves at once towards and away from an abstracted image. Habitual images then become almost unrecognisable, but not quite -an essence of a picture is maintained, with Carlin’s signature florid brushwork supplying the information. Viscous and creamy, earthy colours of ochre, mustard, rust and dirty brown are combined with acidulated blues, vivid greens, moody blues as well as pale pastels, washed out pinks, liliacs and greys.

Attending to unease, these dashing paintings are a bricolage of borrowed compositions and found images made exceptional and distinct. Rooted in histories of picture-making, the pastoral, the picturesque and the playful are rendered in impasto so that they become slightly awry, blurring good taste with bad, sincerity with irony and ubiquity with humour and adeptness. Stroke by stroke, sponteneity is painted through platitudes with splendid results.


Kirstin Carlin currently lives and works in Auckland and completed a Master of Fine Arts at Glasgow School of Art in 2010. She has exhibited works nationally and internationally in artist-run spaces, private galleries as well as public art institutions. A former member of Glasgow artist-run project Victor and Hester, her recent exhibitions include: "Lilac Lemon Lime  (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2020), "Ice Cream Salad" (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2019), "Arrangements" (Melanie Roger. Gallery 2018), Through the Trees (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2017; Dunedin Public Art Gallery 2017-2018), Necessary Distraction: A Painting Show (Auckland Art Gallery, 2015-2016) Pleasure Garden (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2015), Other Avenues (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2014), 74 Heaton St, Christchurch: with Emma Fitts, 2014, Recent Paintings: Kirstin Carlin (Tristian Koenig, Melbourne, 2013), Shadow is Shade: Kirstin Carlin and Emma Fitts (The Physics Room, Christchurch, 2013), Shade is Shadow: Kirstin Carlin and Emma Fitts (Window, University of Auckland, 2013). Kirstin Carlin | Tessa Laird | Ruth Thomas-Edmond (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2013),  Kirstin Carlin (Parlour Gallery, Auckland, 2012), As Good as it Gets (Snake Pit, Auckland, 2012) and Timber Trophy with Carina Brand (Rm, Auckland 2011. Carlin has also exhibited at the Bethanien (Berlin), Centre for Contemporary Art (Glasgow), Victor and Hester (Glasgow) the Physics Room (Christchurch) and Snowwhite (Auckland). In 2020 she was commissioned by Britomart to create a major outdoor installation as well as collaborating with local fashion designer Ingrid Starnes on a new collection - a piece of which is now in the collection of Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. Carlin has received much recognition for her work, including the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award (2017), Creative New Zealand Professional Development Funding (2009) and a William and Mary Armour Postgraduate Scholarship at the Glasgow School of Art (2009). Additionally Carlin’s work is held in major public and private collections including: the Arts House Trust Collection as well as that of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

Kirstin Carlin will exhibit new work as a solo exhibition at Melanie Roger Gallery in May 2024.


Selected Media.

    Sammy-Rose Scapens, Homestyle
    Andrew Paul Wood, Eyecontact exhibition review
    Abby Cunnane, The Physics Room
    Vera Mey, Parlour
    Matt Blomley, The Physics Room
    Vanessa Eve Cook, The Physics Room


  1. Public Programmes | KIRSTIN CARLIN Artist Talk
  2. Studio Visit | Kirstin Carlin
  3. Kirstin Carlin, Veronica Herber and Claudia Jowitt | Abstraxt Abstraxt | Northart
  4. KIRSTIN CARLIN | The Good Oil Podcast
  5. AAF Studio Visit: Kirstin Carlin
  6. KIRSTIN CARLIN | Standing in the Sun | Te Tuhi
  7. Kirstin Carlin | Britomart Flag Project
  8. Artists in Isolation: Kirstin Carlin
  9. Kirstin Carlin | Ingrid Starnes collaboration
  10. Stockroom at Sapphire | Part of Artweek Auckland
  11. Kirstin Carlin | You Had a Fun Experience | George Fraser Gallery
  12. Kirstin Carlin | 19 Gallery: Relocating Frances Hodgkins | Auckland Art Gallery
  13. Public Programmes | Coffee and Cake with Kirstin Carlin
  14. Kirstin Carlin, Richard Orjis & Tiffany Singh | Flora | Franklin Arts Centre
  15. Kirstin Carlin | Pack Lite | NY, LA & Auckland
  16. KIRSTIN CARLIN | Molly Morpeth Canaday Award Winner 2017
  17. Kirstin Carlin & Richard Orjis | The First Flower People | Nathan Homestead
  18. Kirstin Carlin | Through The Trees | Dunedin Public Art Gallery
  19. Kirstin Carlin, Kristy Gorman & Peter Gouge | Painting Programme | Wallace Trust Gallery
  20. An Occasional Rant | Female representation in New Zealand Galleries
  21. Kirstin Carlin & Emma Fitts | Necessary Distraction Publication
  22. KIRSTIN CARLIN & EMMA FITTS | Necessary Distraction | Auckland Art Gallery
  23. Florence and Friends | Flotsam and Jetsam Pop-up Project
  24. KIRSTIN CARLIN | 74 Heaton Street, Christchurch
  25. KIRSTIN CARLIN publication
  26. Winter Solstice Public Programmes | Gavin Hurley & Kirstin Carlin
  27. KIRSTIN CARLIN | Physics Room Supporters Edition
  28. ART NEW ZEALAND Magazine texts
  29. Kirstin Carlin | Art New Zealand magazine