Artists We Love: Kirsten Sims

INTERVIEWED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring IMAGES courtesy of Salon 91

Salon 91 in Cape Town is hosting Kirsten Sims’ first solo exhibition, The Middle Of Nowhere, until 18 July 2015. We chatted to this beloved local artist about her latest pieces, distinctive aesthetic and the importance she places on storytelling in her work.

What inspired your new body of work?

This body of work is inspired by the idea of the ‘middle of nowhere’ as a place and a feeling. When I started working on the concept for the show I had just finished my post-grad degree, left my job as an illustration teacher and moved from Stellenbosch to Cape Town. I really felt as if I was in the middle of nowhere, as an artist and as a 28-year-old. I wasn’t sure what would come next, so I decided to use that and create work born from that feeling of vulnerability. I wanted to explore what the middle of nowhere looks and feels like in my work.

Storytelling plays an important part in your pieces. What do love most about this creative process?

Storytelling helps me, and I think the viewer too, to connect to a particular scene. Visually, they aren’t all ‘stories,’ but I think once I add a title there is more of a play between image and text, which definitely helps to create a narrative. I love setting a scene and seeing what will happen next.

Illustrating or painting? And why?

Both. Painting was my medium of choice for this particular show, but I am still an illustrator. I am illustrating ‘texts’ both real and imagined – and I think the fact that my titles are important to me means I still really enjoy the push and pull between image and text.

Describe your aesthetic in a tweet.

The combination of the seemingly ordinary with a curious twist to reveal the whimsy of everyday life.

Tell us a bit about Split Second Stories. Why did you decide to create a zine?

I was experimenting with charcoal and the idea of Split Second Stories for quite a while before I decided to turn it into a zine. I started to play around with the idea of making an image – scanning it in and then changing one detail in the image in order to create a narrative.

Zines are a great way of quickly presenting a body of work without getting too precious about printing/paper stock/publishing.


Other than your current solo exhibition at Salon 91, do you have any exciting projects coming up?

Yes! I have finished my first children’s book called Henry Goes Home about a polar bear who runs away from the circus. It will be published in Portugal at the beginning of 2016.

To keep up to date with what Kirsten is up to, visit