"I was born in Hawera in 1948. Around the age of nine I began making
comic strips - collections of short stories with titles like "Buttercup
and Butch on Mars", and "Olley and Lazy in the Time Hat". The rest of
the time I was drawing ships.
I bought my first camera in 1968 en route to England. It wasn't until
several years later however that I began to take any decent
photographs. By then I'd seen the work of photographers like Robert
Frank and Cartier Bresson. By this time I was living in Auckland and
spending most of my spare time taking street photographs with a 35mm
camera and black and white film. I bought an enlarger and learned how
to print. There was a vibrant photographic scene in Auckland in the
early seventies and in 1977 I co-exhibited with Paul Hewson (an old
school friend from Hawera) at Snaps Gallery, and later had some work
published in Photo Forum magazine.
Towards the end of the seventies I decided to have a go at doing a
comic strip again, using the camera as a tool and drawing directly with
a brush from a projected negative in my enlarger. I used Letratone for
I invented a character called Dick Sargeson, an intrepid photographer
working for World Pictures Agency, now semi-retired in New Zealand, but
soon caught up in new adventures working for the Daily Mail in New
Plymouth. The Dioxin Man character (born out of a chemical spill at
Ivan Watkins Dow) was incorporated into the Dick Sargeson strip which
ran for three years in The Listener in the mid eighties.
In 1988 I had an exhibition of panels from the comic at the Govett
Brewster Gallery. These took the form of air brushed gouache on paper.
(I had been experimenting with an air brush as a means of putting down
flat, even, colour for comic strips.) Seeing the individual panels done
to a larger scale prompted me to make them larger still by switching to
acrylic on board. About this time I was considering doing a series of
paintings of Hawera, my old home town. I began taking photographs of
the place (and the water-tower, inevitably) but realised that something
else was needed. It turned out to be Superman. "Superman and the Hawera
Water Tower', followed shortly after by "Batman and the Catholic
Church", began a series of "Superheroes in New Zealand" paintings which
currently number around 60 - 70.
By the end of the nineties, the Superheroes were being phased out and
replaced with other elements, objects, people, statues etc. From a
repertoire of images from newspapers, books, television and my own
photographs I would look for interesting juxtapositions. A New Zealand
stamp series (also ongoing) was one outcome and from my father's WW2
negatives, a collection of paintings called "Maadi and Beyond".
In 2003 I began drawing Superheroes again. by 2006 the "drawn" comic form ws being replaced by the silver screen version along with other movie and
television icons (of Superhero status).
In May and June of 2007 I spent six weeks travelling and photographing in the UK. A "superheroes in the UK" exhibition of paintings and prints is the
intended outcome, tentatively set for December 2008.
I've never wanted to be a painter in the traditional sense, working
from sketches or painting from life. I've always preferred the
immediacy of the snapshot image, and there has always been something
about the photographic 'truth' that appeals to me.
|CV and Selected Exhibitions
||Born in Hawera, New Zealand
||Began making home-made comic
||Bought first camera.
||Exhibited in various group shows
in Auckland. Included in "The Active Eye", an exhibition of
contemporary N.Z. photography organised by the Manawatu Art Gallery.
||Portfolio of photos published in Photo
||Participated in various group
||Co-exhibited with Paul Hewson at Snaps
||Began "Dick Sargeson"
||Returned to Taranaki. Exhibited
at "Renonsense" (exhibition organised by Taranaki Artists
||Began "Dioxin Man" comic
strip, inspired by IWD chemical leak at New Plymouth.
||Dick Sargeson comic strip
begins running in The Listener.
||Exhibition at Words and
Pictures Gallery, Auckland. Panels from comic.
Two works selected for the 24th World Exhibition of Comics,
||New Dick Sargeson story
begins in Listener.
Exhibition with Ces Hill at King St Gallery, New Plymouth. Panels from
Commissioned to illustrate Barry Crump Book: Bastards I Have Met.
||Change of direction toward
painting for exhibition. Link with comic form still strong.
||Exhibition of Dick Sargeson
panels at Govett Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth.
||Exhibition at Gallery Seventy
||Exhibition at Words and Pictures
Exhibition at Gallery Seventy Nine, Hawera.
"Kirk Work" exhibition at Kudos Gallery, Wellington.
||"Superheroes in Wellington"
exhibition at Kudos Gallery.
||"Superheroes in Auckland"
exhibition at Oedipus Rex Gallery, Auckland.
||"Superheroes in Dunedin"
exhibition at Dunedin Public Gallery.
"New Work" exhibition at Oedipus Rex
||Work in "Elvis in Geyserland"
exhibition at Rotorua Art History Museum.
Work in "About Town" exhibition (images of Christchurch),
Robert McDougall Gallery, Christchurch.
"Kirk Work" exhibition at Wonton Gallery, Wellington.
||"Icons and Artifacts"
exhibition with Wayne Morris at Art Gallery, New Plymouth.
Eight Taranaki Artists exhibition at Govett Brewster
Gallery, New Plymouth.
||"Two Real" exhibition with
Kees Bruin at Robert McDougall Gallery, Christchurch.
Barraca Vorticista, Buenos Aires, Argentina (via Internet).
||"Kirk Work" exhibition.
Paintings and lithographs. Muka Gallery, Auckland.
Waiouru War Museum: "Maadi and Beyond" Paintings by Graham Kirk
from the Photographs of Jock Kirk.
Taranaki Museum: "Kirk Work" exhibition.
||Auckland City Gallery: "The
Cartoon Show" (two works).
||"Kirk Work" exhibition,
Portfolio Gallery, Auckland.
||"Kirk Work" exhibition,
Victoria Henwood Gallery, New Plymouth.
||"Superheroes in Auckland" Letham Gallery, Auckland.
||"New Paintings" Letham Gallery, Auckland.
||"New Paintings" Walrus Gallery, Wellington.
||"Kirk Work" Kina Gallery, New Plymouth.
||May - June. Photographic trip to the UK.
Started producing inkjet, archival prints from scans of
photos of selected works.
||"Paintings & Prints" Letham Gallery, Ponsonby, Auckland.