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kirsty portrait.jpg

Photograph by Che Chorley 

Kirsty Martinsen is a painter, designer and performer and filmmaker based in Adelaide, South Australia. She has a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the South Australian School of Art and a Diploma of Painting from the NY Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.


Her lived experience with MS continues to provide her with new insights into and an outlook on her work, included in her approach is the use of a power-wheelchair as an extension of her thinking and practice. Kirsty is a believer in art as an agent for social change and in a disability arts and culture that enables disabled people to strive for artistic expression, champion their own destiny and combat prejudice.

Predominately working in painting and drawing, her powerful pastels boldly convey the strength of quiet observation and trust in her intuitive process. Kirsty considers herself a colourist though admits that’s mainly due to her interest in nature’s inherent beauty, and each relationship to grey. 

In a world of fast decisions, literalness, the need to know and be told how to think and feel, Kirsty is interested in the opposite. She’s interested in the quiet, slow surrendering of a need to know or be told, and the layers and textures of our relationship with ourselves. She loves to work from life, either with people or plein air, working outside amongst the trees, birds and sunshine, drawing.

Kirsty has exhibited in Australia, US, UK and Amsterdam. Her short film, Breathe, won the Mercedes Matter/Ambassador Middendorf Award at X Marks The Spot: Women of The NY Studio School, the 2018 Alumni show. In 2016 she participated in the Australia Council’s Sync Leadership Program; sat on Arts SA’s Richard Llewellyn Art and Disability Trust panel; performed in the 2016 Fringe in Spring written by Patricia Cornelius and Directed by Maude Davey with No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability, and in Jérôme Bel’s GALA in the 2017 Adelaide Festival.


In 2018 she was commissioned by SBS and SA Film Corporation to make a short documentary called Limited Surrender, available here.


She is currently working with dancer Erin Fowler on a collaboration for The Mill’s Showcase called 'Bodiness: call and response'. 

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