Kimberley Kermode is a Montreal born artist now residing in Melbourne, Australia. She paints with acrylic and aerosol in her shared studio called The Arts Hole.
Her art is her discovery of her complex Caribbean heritage on her mother’s side. From a young age, she was fascinated by the confidence portrayed from ‘people of colour’ (POC) and while she was exploring what it meant to be part Martiniquan, she was also navigating her own confidence and complexities with colourism. Having only visited Martinique once, her memory of the landscape and the people are blurred with what she sees in the media and other people mixed with Western Caribbean roots.
However layered being mixed of colour is, we all find ourselves looking at both ancestors and others who have similar appearances and cultural complexities for answers. Kmode’s body of work is a journey of rediscovering herself - through her mothers heritage - within her identity as a woman and person of colour. She is inspired particularly by the Western female with Caribbean heritage, exploring a range of hair textures and diverse skin tones.
When did your interest in art begin vs. when you began thinking of it as a career/life choice?
I would say I always had an interest for art and creating things since I was a child. I have an older sister who was fashion forward and into theatre and music, so naturally I was influenced creatively at a young age. I started taking my creativity more seriously when I was studying visual / digital art and graphic design at college. After my bachelor's degree, I joined a creative studio space called The Roost in Newcastle, Australia. We would curate local group shows every few months that involved a lot of the members and local talent in the area. It was during this time when I became inspired and realized that becoming a full time creative could become my reality.
What draws you to your particular subject matter?
Growing up in Toronto, I have always been influenced by people with Caribbean heritage. Toronto is a melting pot of multiculturalism and as I grew older, I have realized how important understanding my diversity is to me and how it has shaped me today. My mother's side of the family is from Martinique and I have only had the chance to visit once as a child. When my mom moved to Canada, she chose to embrace a more Western lifestyle while choosing not to talk often about her earlier life. This naturally made me more curious and inquisitive about her heritage. While exploring my family history, my cultural differences has opened my eyes to other diversities, especially that in the Caribbean, which often has many complexions of skin tones, ethnicities, and traditions. It has helped me understand the complexities and beauty of having parents from different racial backgrounds.
What interest of yours (outside of art) ends up influencing your practice the most?
Traveling has had an impact on my practice. Through my travels I have had the privilege of being introduced to inspiring and influential people and places. Allowing myself the opportunity to observe and meet new people of different backgrounds has made me want to learn more about my own. Being born in Montreal as well as having a mom migrate from Martinique has made me want to learn how to speak French and to get more in tune with my heritage. French culture is a part of my family’s history and has an influence on my present and future.
What is one piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self?
I was such a dreamer when I was younger, I wanted to be on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and movies like ‘Step Up’ just to be a singer or a dancer. I proudly call myself a failed dancer and some advice I would give my younger self would be to start now and to work hard at it every day. It’s really the discipline that becomes harder to learn the older we get.
What would you say is your biggest goal for this year?
I had my debut solo art show at the end of last year which was a huge goal of mine. During the lead up artists would tell me how difficult it is to keep the momentum of creating art after a solo show, so this influenced me to start short paint studies exploring an evolution of my previous work. This year will be about exploring techniques and to research before diving into a full body of work again. It’s how we push ourselves to achieve these small goals that help the success of completing large goals.