Shirley Kirkcaldy

 Fine Artist

Artist Profile

Shirley Kirkcaldy was born in London but grew up in the southwest, surrounded by the moorlands and beaches of Devon and Cornwall.  Her early career was spent as a nurse but, always creative, she nurtured a hunger to follow an artistic path.  Having travelled the world for twenty-five years she began painting in earnest in 2008, since when she has developed meaningful projects that have opened-up a painting practice with integrity that is both experimental but grounded and coherent.

Shirley’s work is based on the exploration of her natural surroundings and she is willing to pursue whichever paint media will best convey her ideas, predominantly Oil and Acrylic; images that exist in actuality and memory are transposed onto canvas as expressions of her personal connection to a place and time.  It has been said of her paintings that ‘they are landscapes within landscapes, the closer one looks the more detail there is, the more one sees’.

Shirley was a finalist in the Fine Art Trade Guild Emerging Artist of the Year in 2014 and completed a year-long course at the Newlyn School of Art in 2016, which further defined and developed her practice.  Now living on Dartmoor and currently studying for a BA Hons in Painting, Drawing and Printmaking at Plymouth College of Art, Shirley works from her studio in Plymouth and exhibits regularly throughout the southwest and London.

What Inspires Me?

Artists are storytellers and places tell stories.  For me there is something very humbling about being alone in the landscape – observing its ever-changing canvas and shifting light, seeing how it nurtures its wildlife and stands steadfast in all weathers.  Surrounded by the expansiveness of Dartmoor and enigmatic coastlines of the southwest, the exploration of the natural environment is an endless source of inspiration in my work.

Memories are woven into a landscape and this has a profound emotional ability to connect us to our past; my personal challenge is how to evoke the visceral, organic elements of nature and embody them within the confines of a canvas.  Sketching and visual note-taking on location allows me to respond to the feeling of isolation and solitude of a place – to describe its contours, intangible spaces and fractured light. Then, using layers of paint and glazes in oil or acrylic and abstracting or subtracting information, the final images will often move further away from documentary and more towards anonymity and ambiguity.  Thus, I am inviting the viewer to form their own interpretation and convey a personal significance of a place and time that has meaning for them.

Shirley Kirkcaldy


2016 [Feb-Dec]

Defining Practice, Newlyn School of Art, Cornwall


Creative Painting, Plymouth College of Art


Life Drawing, Plymouth College of Art


Landscape as Power and Emotion, James Tatum


New Pastel School


Oil with Pallet Knife, Neil Pinkett, Newlyn School of Art


Colour and Abstraction, Gareth Edwards, Newlyn School of Art


Printmaking [
etching, collagraph, monotype], Mary Gillett, Devon


Creative Materials, St Ives School of Painting


Various workshops and courses


Scheduled Oct 2016

“Defined View”, Dulwich, London SE22 9EU

June 2014

Flavel Centre, Dartmouth

September 2013

Devon Open Studios, 360 gallery, Plymouth

November 2012

Colour and Light, Art at the Works, Tavistock, Devon

April – May 2011

Bistro One, Plymouth

September 2010

Devon Open Studios, 360 gallery, Plymouth


August 2015

Salcombe Contemporary Art Fair [Selected Exhibitor]

September 2014

Devon Open Studios, 360 Gallery, Plymouth

May 2013

Mariners Gallery, St Ives

September 2012

Phoenix Centre, Exeter

November 2009

Eddystone, South Hams


Oil, Acrylic, Pastel [soft and oil], Charcoal, Graphite, Ink]

Nominations / Awards

Finalist for “Up and Coming Artist of the Year” 2015 – Fine Art Trade Guild


West Country Artists

Pastel Society

Drawn to the Valley

Devon Artists Network

SAA Professional Member

Work Currently Exhibited At:

Mayflower Arts Gallery, Barbican, Plymouth

Hope Cove Gallery, South hams

Drawn to the Valley

360 Gallery, Plymouth [Resident Artist]

error: © Shirley Kirkcaldy