Kirsty Stevens

Kirsty Stevens, Findings (triptych), 2023

Kirsty Stevens, Triptych (original drawings), 2023

Coming from a design background, Stevens had a successful career but felt she wanted to try something new. In 2020 she was awarded funding from Creative Scotland through the Visual Art and Craft Maker Awards for a research and development project on the workings of French Neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. The project was drawing focused and would include research trips to London and Paris, but the global pandemic got in the way. Instead, she used the funds for numerous online life drawing classes, drawing modules and courses that strengthened her drawing and confidence within this practice.

Layered Drawings, 2023

Mixed Media (variations), Oil Bar, Charcoal Pencil, Soft Pastel, Ink, Hair. Waxed paper, pressed

Kirsty Stevens, Inflammatory, 2023
Kirsty Stevens, CSF, 2023
Kirsty Stevens, Confluent, 2023
Kirsty Stevens, Scattered, 2023
Kirsty Stevens, Holding You Still, 2023

Stevens latest works explore what Multiple Sclerosis has done to her over the last 15 years of living with this invisible condition. Responding to her latest Radiology report, that describes in detail how MS has progressed throughout her brain over the years, she uses drawing to interpret these medical findings. Each drawing is created using mixed media intuitively on layers of waxed paper that are then pressed to show the intrinsic marks made to represent the parts of the brain where the lesions are found and show their appearance.

Earlier this year she was selected to be a Maker in Residence for the Hole & Corner Summer Residency programme, and was invited to work from their studio in Farringdon, London, to develop her layered drawing concepts.

Giclée Prints, 2023

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 100% Cotton paper, Archival

Kirsty Stevens, CSF, 2023
Kirsty Stevens, Inflammatory, 2023
Kirsty Stevens, Scattered, 2023
Kirsty Stevens, Confluent, 2023
Kirsty Stevens, Holding You Still, 2023

Stevens also illustrates her invisible symptoms caused by her MS to acknowledge how this illness can make her feel. She decided to pair her collection of Layered Drawings for ‘Life Lines’ with Giclee prints of her ‘The Four Times of My Day’ illustrations to show what the damage caused by MS can result in physically. 

The Four Times of My Day
Kirsty Stevens, The Four Times of My Day - Morning, 2022
Kirsty Stevens, The Four Times of My Day - Midday, 2022
Kirsty Stevens, The Four Times of My Day - Afternoon, 2022
Kirsty Stevens, The Four Times of My Day - Evening, 2022

Kirsty Stevens, The Four Times of My Day, 2022

‘The Four Times of My Day’ was created in response to a wonderfully written statement from Resting Up Collective as part of a collaboration, asking what is time, how do the chronically ill measure it and how do we hold it within our bodies? 

My illustration ‘The Four Times of My Day’ was inspired by the art work ‘The Four Times of The Day’ by Nicolas Lancret, 1739. This was four separate paintings/etchings that show what people get up to or ‘should’ get up to throughout the day, from Morning, Midday, Afternoon through to Evening. Many artists of this time created their own Four Times of The Day which also held social commentary.

This got me thinking about how different my four times of the day can be compared to the ‘masses’ – especially on bad days with intense fatigue. I created a series of self-portraits to represent my day. The colours chosen for the backgrounds of each piece were influenced by the colour of the sky at each time of the day, morning. midday, afternoon, and evening. 

The complete four images can be read moving clockwise, showing how easily fatigue can become a never-ending loop, all day, every day! 

Letter to MS

Kirsty Stevens was selected for a six week drawing program, Wintering Well with Drawing Correspondence. For an online publication, participants were asked to write a letter to accompany their final drawings. Stevens chose to write to MS to go alongside the drawing ‘Holding You Still’ 2022

Kirsty Stevens, Holding You Still

‘The brain is a world consisting of a number of
continents and great stretches of unknown
territory.’ – Cajal

Dear Multiple Sclerosis,

We have lived together for 15 years, and you know more of me than I of you. You cover
neurological landscapes that I never knew existed. Yes, I have been told of where you situate and of your scattered, inflammatory appearance, however you are still unfamiliar to me, but I can feel you.

Like in the natural world you are growing on your own terms, you stake your claim on grounds that should be untouched, by corroding, burning and devastating what was once there.

I have thoughtfully explored this subterrain you have carved for yourself, through line and mark
making, depicting the layers and networks of blistering destruction I envisage. Capturing the vast complexities, between layers of waxed paper, holding you still.

While drawing you, I feel you less

About Kirsty Stevens

Kirsty Stevens is a visual artist and designer living and working in Fife, Scotland. Whilst Stevens was studying
Jewellery and Metal Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, she was diagnosed with Multiple
Sclerosis (MS), a lifelong condition affecting the brain and central nervous system. Determined to make something positive out of this negative diagnosis she began using her own MRI scans to create mesmerising patterns inspired by the harmful lesions on her brain.

In 2014 she founded her own surface pattern design label, ‘Charcot’, named after Jean Martin Charcot who first
discovered MS in 1868. She has leased MS-inspired prints around the world, represented UNESCO City of Design
Dundee at the first Design Week in Shenzhen, China, at the same time as being announced as the first Design
Champion for Scotland’s Design Museum, V&A Dundee in 2017. Stevens has also worked closely with the MS Society over the years, sharing her story at public speaking events and as a Wellbeing Facilitator during the covid lockdown.

Click here to see more working drawings and research processes from the Charcot Studio

Click here to see images from a residency at Hole & Corner, London 2023

Find out more about Life Lines and see exhibiting pages from other artists