01.12 - 18.12.2021

A solo exhibition by Kirsten Sims

Salon Ninety One is honoured to present Lost in the Light; a rare collection of luminescent, sensitive colour pencil drawings by Kirsten Sims.


This artist statement has been an impossible one to write. Since deciding to exhibit these drawings, I’ve started and stalled more times than I can count.

In March this year my world came crashing down when my partner Dale, the father of my son Finlay, died in a drowning accident after finishing a 3-day hike with friends in the Drakensberg mountains.

When I was finally ready to go back into my studio, I sat down to paint and nothing worked. What I needed to process was simply too big. The weight of my grief was too heavy. Paint was too heavy. My usual way of working stopped working and I couldn’t just go back to painting familiar landscapes and parties because the world I found myself in was a completely different place from the one I’d known before.

Day after day I showed up in my studio hoping to escape, hoping that the imaginary worlds I usually get lost in would carry me far away. But I just couldn’t go there.

Meanwhile the garden that Dale started to plant a year ago began to come alive. Every few days my mother would pick a single flower and put it on my desk. One day I picked up some colour pencils and I drew that day’s flower. Then the next and the next.

It was as if my grief was driving me back to the beginning, back to art school basics. I had the voice of my high school art teacher in my head, and I suddenly understood things he tried to teach me 16 years ago. I started to find comfort in the lightness and fragility of the pencils. Their sensitive and vulnerable nature mirrored my internal world quite perfectly and I was finally able to go to those impossible places.

This collection of drawings is in honour of my love, Dale Kilian. I will keep trying and failing to draw you for the rest of my life.

I titled the show after a song of the same name by Bahamas.

- Kirsten Sims




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