Local artist profile: Kain White

October 13, 2021 BY

Signs and symbols: Multi-disciplinary artist Kain White. Photo: NONI HYETT

THIS week we speak with painter, illustrator, animator, printmaker and educator Kain White


What initially motivated you to become an artist?

I have always been fascinated with the act of creating something and how this mimics creation in nature – a kind of ‘creation’ ‘creating’.

Art, for me, is the best way I know to clarify thoughts, feelings and ideas into a form that can be further understood.

When a work is on display, the added interest of allowing others to observe an artwork is also a powerful way to gain further understanding of the images an artist creates.

In a way, the work is no longer your property once it’s on display.


Can you describe your style?

I would say my style is symbolic-realism. I try to make the inner world visual in this world. I explore thoughts and impressions in visual language. In some cases, there is no real ‘answer’ to what an image means. It’s a mystery.

Early on, I was obsessed with dreams which led me to surrealism, but have since moved into symbolism. My current style aims to reflect on the modern world and find symbols in a similar way that traditional cultures viewed reality.


There’s a theme in some of your works that feature these intriguing spacemen. Where does this come from?

The space suit is the result of searching for a theme that expresses (to me) an outer shell as a form of protection preserving the already decimated environment from the contents of the suit (the human).

This is an important point. The symbol of the space suit unlocks one’s imagination of the possibilities, but simultaneously it is a moving prison.

The series was started around seven years ago, and the more recent events in the world have only encouraged me to explore the theme further.

We each carry an outer shell that can display all manner of impressions to the outsider, but in some ways, it’s a form of self-preservation/protection.

Space suits have been a reoccurring theme in White’s work for almost a decade.

What have you been working on lately?

Engravings for The Harebrained Press Project – theharebrainedpress.com.

Illustrations for a reprint of a story by E.M. Forster titled The Machine Stops.

A series titled Sci-cons which builds on the Odyssey astronaut series of peeking into the future while combining some new symbolic elements.


What are some highlights from your career so far?

Meeting my partner of 15 years through a fellow art friend (and) trekking to Sydney and Melbourne for various group shows.

Having the honour of holding several shows with the late and great Hugh Waller, including two in Melbourne which were challenging but rewarded by a pint and a laugh after a hard day.

I have won awards and things but the most important thing is freedom of thought. If you step outside the conceptual bounds of society and the obsessions/conventions surrounding it, you see a whole new world.


How has your practice been affected by COVID?

I have used the time to focus on developing my ideas and skills further.

Exhibiting has not been a focus for me, but when the time comes, I will have some work to show. Personally, it has not affected my practice.

The worry of what is happening in the world has certainly weighed heavily on all of us, so I am trying to be strong for friends and family while we confront the unknown.

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