Born in Norway in 1976, Kristin Vestgård studied painting and drawing in Nordfjord and Oslo before coming to the UK in 1997 to work for a BA in Fine Art at Falmouth College of Art. Three years later her studies culminated in a sell-out degree show. Although she continued to live in Cornwall for a further ten years, her paintings becoming increasingly sought after by galleries in both London and the West Country, it is the indefinably Nordic quality to her work that one instantly senses.
Like the silence of snowflakes settling on fir trees or the ephemeral appearance of the aurora borealis her paintings whisper to us of magic and dreams and times spent in playful contemplation. Her figures, for she is essentially a figurative painter, seem somehow to be part of a narrative that is never explained – it is of course for us to interpret as we will, just as she herself does during the painting process giving her protagonists full reign to create their own scenarios while she builds up the image with layers of gouache then oil, keeping some marks and allowing new spaces to appear into which her figures (always female) can step. It is an entirely intuitive process that draws upon her inner world of people, emotions, thoughts and atmospheres, akin to as she describes it, “a diary with no words” where dreams, fantasies and a sort of “inner adventure” play out.
In 2007 Kristin returned to Norway where she lives with her partner and their daughter in a traditional wooden house (part of a housing trust for artists and creatives) across from which is the studio in which she works. It was a return to the land in which she had grown up – time spent skiing in the mountains with her mother’s family or up in the far north where her father came from – a country where winter light was almost non-existent but in the summer was virtually a constant. It is this place of ice and snow and fairy tales that has undoubtedly fed into Kristin’s paintings. Her colours are cool her figures fantastical their clothes creations of whimsy and splendour in which she wraps them partly to protect them, partly to hide the secrets and ambiguity of their lives. As a child she had toyed with the idea of being a fashion designer, now the shapes of clothes and the atmosphere which they create feed into her imaginative world.
Change Beneath, 2010