I see myself principally as a painter, who also creates collages. I start with a tale, often inspired by folklore or myths, that inspires an eclectic mix of symbols. As a person caught between cultural traditions, I’ve created my own glossary, conjuring nature and animal-human hybrids; a tree becomes a wall, becomes a fox, a bird, a shadowy figure, mist or a beef burger perched in an oak tree. I love detail. Using free association and automatic drawing I blend images and ciphers with autobiography, creating fractured and looping narratives.
I work in limited palettes, allowing me to push colour to its limit. Some of the recurring motifs in my work are walls, the emblem of division. They appear impenetrable, but crumble, helpless against nature’s ravages. Trees convey majestic calm, the power of time to remake the world. My work is a place for the viewer to reconnect with their idiosyncrasies. It’s playful and detailed, a visual confessional. The mood is a mix of melancholy and magic.
I’m inspired by 90s immersive installation art, alongside Old Masters like El Greco. For me art is part of life, in the tradition of the icon paintings, where a thousand hands slowly wear away the Madonna’s feet.
Charlie Kirkham was born in Solihull, UK. Charlie began studying at The Bezalel School of Art & Design, Jerusalem, before returning to the UK in 2011. The tri-artist and public collaborative painting "Coventry Phoenix" was commissioned by Coventry County Council for the 2012 Coventry Mysteries Festival. In 2013 she completed a Diploma in Portraiture at The Heatherley School of Fine Art, Chelsea. In 2018 Charlie was awarded a Visions of Science Bursary Award by Edge Arts Bath in collaboration with The Milner Centre for Evolution, University of Bath. Her work has been selected for the ING Discerning Eye at The Mall Galleries, London (2014, 2016, 2021). She is a full member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art and lives and works in the West Midlands.