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Kirsty Martinsen: ‘Bodiness’

Who would have thought that a scratchy little ink drawing called hands like wings by Kirsty Martinsen and a line from a Rumi poem “we are sodden in bodiness…” would provide the spark of inspiration for the ambitious, and impressively ongoing multi-year and multi-location Bodiness project.

South Australian professional disabled artist, Kirsty Martinsen, has a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the South Australian School of Art and a Diploma of Painting from the NY Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.

The very first iterations of the project began with smaller ink drawings Martinsen was creating while she studied Production Design at Tafe in 2016, and was also about to begin her first treatment for Optic Neuritis. These ink drawings were her reaction to her fear of the unknown that loomed in regard to the upcoming medical treatments as well as her recent diagnosis with MS. Martinsen’s lecturer at the time saw these ink drawings and further encouraged her to make them larger, which expanded the concept into one which excitingly incorporated Martinsen’s wheelchair. This is also the year that Martinsen began collaborating with New York-based theatre maker, Erwin Maas.

Kirsty Martinsen, a Caucasian woman, in an electronic wheelchair on top of a large cream sheet of material with round black ink patterns. Kirsty is on a large, open rooftop. A blue sky with white clouds and the tops of high-rise buildings are in the background.

Kirsty Martinsen, 2016.

Birds were a continuous part of her imagery, though Kirsty notes, this was more so unconsciously within her practice, with them representing an enduring image of hope, freedom, liberation, and strength for the artist.

The next year in 2017, Kirsty was selected to be a resident artist at local multi-faceted artist studios and creative offices and exhibition space, The Mill for Bodiness – Development of new work with theatre maker Erwin Maas (New York), and Performance with Alison Currie and Ian Dixon. In collaboration with local choreographer and director making dance, Alison Currie, Martinsen continued to grow her ink painting technique in which she utilised her wheelchair, with this version of performance accompanied by both Currie and live trumpet by Dixon.

Kirsty, a Caucasian woman in an electronic wheelchair, slaps an ink-covered material onto a large white piece of material covered in black ink tracks beneath her. A trumpet player and older man are to the side.

‘Bodiness – Development of new work with theatre maker Erwin Maas (New York), and Performance with Alison Currie and Ian Dixon’ at The Mill, 2017.

Bodiness: call and response was a 2022 collaboration between painter Martinsen and South Australian award winning theatre-maker, dancer and singer dancer, Erin Fowler. It developed further the ideas of the collaboration that first begun in 2016 with Maas, and continued the project based on Martinsen’s experience of ‘otherness’ as disabled woman.

Kirsty explains this ideation of the project;

“People say to me ‘you are so much more than your body!’. What does that even mean, nay look like? Living with MS has taken an emotional & psychological toll, but all people see is the physical, the body. I feel like I’ve lost who I am in a chasm of loss and grief and bureaucracy . I have had to fight to keep my spirit alive. We are all much more than our flesh. My work seeks to explore the ways in which difference is a site for connection, the body is a site for potential, and process is a site for emotional/psychological/spiritual exploration.”

The original work took its title from a line of a Rumi poem; “…that tangle of limited surrender/ Is the human mire. We’re sodden in bodiness…”

Viewers were asked to consider process, gesture, scale, materiality, movement, and collaboration in relation to her practice. Similarly, in this latest development Martinsen and Fowler responded to those components in each other’s work and located intersections of commonality. Fowler’s performance work is steeped in a rich spiritual practice and this is one of the main reasons Martinsen invited her to collaborate.

For the 2023 South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival, Martinsen more consciously embraced a bird-focused imagery in her exhibition The Jabiru Series which was displayed in the street-facing windows on the ground level U City in the Adelaide CBD. This exhibition displayed recent paintings and drawings from the artist that contemplated freedom and hope. Inspired by meeting a Jabiru in the zoo, these works consider what it means to be trapped and work with limitations, and were another development within the growing artistic project.

At night, a person in a jacket stands looking at a painting illuminated in a glass window. The orange, red, yellow, white and grey painting depicts a large bird (a jabiru) with outstretched wings.

‘The Jabiru Series’, SALA 2023

Later in 2023, POP Gallery & Studios in Port Adelaide presented the next iteration of the project titled; Kirsty Martinsen // Bodiness: hands like wings. This performative new body of work by Martinsen was a work-in-progress performance, made in collaboration with local sculptural artist James Dodd, Will Spartalis who created the performance soundscape, and continued collaboration with Erwin Maas. developed at a Free-range Residency at The Mill and then Vitalstatistix Adhocracy.

This iteration of the Bodiness project, Bodiness: hands like wings, featured kinetic appendages for Martinsen’s wheelchair that become a vivid component of live performance, combining her artistic performance pieces with her continuing interest in birds and what they powerfully represented for her.

Kirsty, a Caucasian woman, sits in her wheelchair in the centre of a gallery space, the audience looks on attentively, there are white wings on her chair, illuminated by a light behind her.

‘Bodiness: hands like wings’ at Post Office Projects, 2023.

In 2024, the self-portrait performance Bodiness: Hands Like Wings will be performed at the Adelaide Festival Centre as part of their inSPACE residency. This inSPACE residency has provided the incredible opportunity for Martinsen to work with director Erwin Maas in Adelaide for the first time, as up till now they have only worked remotely.

Their unique collaboration brings theatre, painting and drawing, and disability together in a piece addressing notions of freedom, beauty and ability. Their focus is on honing Kirsty‘s skills as a performer, strengthening form and structure in the overall existing script. Kirsty is interested in her relationship to increasingly disabled body as a site for transformation and connection.

Martinsen and Maas will also be collaborating with Sound Designer, Sascha Budimski, and projection/lighting designer, Mark Oakley, to create a show that captures Martinsen’s innovation and spirit.

Stay tuned for this fourth and final stage of development for Kirsty’s project.

You can learn more about Kirsty through her artist profile here.

This June, Make An Impact For Disabled Artists

Can you help us make a real difference in the lives of disabled artists like Bundy?

Last year your support made it possible for us to assist many local disabled artists, including former outback truck driver turned visual artist ‘Bundy’ Bannerman of Pink Bear Art – who you can always recognise wearing a signature pink shirt.

You guys got me back on track with art and put me in the right direction… (I’m) so glad to have improved with you.

– Artist Bundy Bannerman

When we first met Bundy in 2022, he had been bouncing around arts organisations with no definitive help, and as an older disabled artist, wasn’t able to access the support available to early-career artists. This left him understandably frustrated, exhausted and feeling despondent.

A photo with two images. On the left is a close up of a painting of brown truck on red dirt in the Australian outback. On the right is close up shot of a painting depicting a scene at a swimming pool.

Two of Bundy’s artworks – one depicting his time as an outback truck driver, and the other depicting time spent at a local pool.

He finally came to Access2Arts where we were able to assist him with grant applications, digital skills, and help with his presence on social media. He also won a place in our ‘The Exquisite Familiar’ artist program, which provided skill development, networking with other disabled artists, and the opportunity to exhibit work at the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) and the Museum of Discovery (MOD.).

Bundy, an older Caucasian man wearing a pink checkered, long-sleeve shirt, and brown hat, and with his arm in a blue sling, smiles while interacting with a woman with red hair and wearing a black top.

Bundy at ‘The Exquisite Familiar’ exhibition launch in The Studio at the Art Gallery of South Australia, 2022.

We are a small but mighty team at Access2Arts, and every dollar means more services we can deliver, so with your support we can continue to help Bundy, and others just like him, achieve even more in their artistic careers.

This June, support Access2Arts so we can continue to make a real and lasting difference in disabled artists lives through education, support and referral services!

Make a donation here to Access2Arts this month so we can continue to make the challenging things possible for Bundy and other disabled South Australian artists.

You guys go out of your way to do anything, to make anything possible for us.

– Bundy

Welcome to Lachlan ‘Loki’ Rickus, the new A2A Chairperson

Access2Arts are thrilled to welcome Lachlan ‘Loki’ Rickus onto our board as the new Chairperson!

Lachlan (Loki) Rickus has been performing in Adelaide, Australia and internationally for over 20 years, with years of training in Ballet, Circus, Gymnastics, Musical Theatre, performing and working with Cirkidz Youth Circus School.

Since breaking his neck in 2006 in a training accident, Loki has taken back to the stage mixing his genres to create his own Cabaret Identity. Writing and performing in acclaimed shows, Leading Ladies for the Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival, 800 Shades of Beige: The Soundtrack to my life and “8” by Loki Rickus, presented by and for Adelaide Feast Festival, William the Great with Bete Du Cirque, FML: The Show, Tom Waits for No Man (Adelaide Cabaret Festival), After Hours Cabaret, Brunswick Picture House Cheeky Cabaret, and The Kaye Hole amongst many others.

We wanted to get to know Loki even better, so we interviewed him, read on below:

A2A: Your background in the arts is extensive – what is one of your favourite career memories?

Loki: One of my career highlights was singing the title song Dream Girls (from Dream Girls) in front of an original broadway cast member and multi-Tony award winner, Lillias White.

A2A: How has your disability/disabilities influenced your artistic practice?

Loki: My disability has led me to combine multi-disciplinary art forms into one expression that never seems to be the same thing every time. Another thing that it has taught me is that my art is not disabled, I am an artist who happens to have a disability.

A2A: Recently, what kind of artistic experiences in South Australia have you enjoyed?

Loki: Due to the pandemic and having to isolate over the last few years due to health concerns, I have not been able to engage with the arts in the same manner as I used to. Using alternate methods of engagement has become key, whether that be online, pre-recorded or other non-conventional ways of attending and supporting the arts.

A2A: Which disabled Australian artists do you admire?

Loki: I grew up in the Australian circus community and before I acquired my disability and afterward multiple artists with a lived experience of disability, including Asphyxia, have been on my admiration list as performance role models. In other art forms, Marc Brew (Dance) is continually upping the game and I admire his dedication and creativity. When it comes to companies working in the space, especially in South Australia, I constantly admire Restless Dance Theatre’s drive, passion, and longevity.

A2A: What are you hoping to accomplish as part of the Access2Arts board?

Loki: I am excited to help the organisation grow to be able to create sustainable and well-needed change throughout the arts sector for performers, creators, and audiences alike.

A2A: What kind of accessibility would you love to see in the South Australian arts sector?

Loki: I would love to see universal access across all levels of the arts sector, especially in South Australia.


You can learn more about our exciting new addition Loki through his profile here.

From Adelaide to Venice – SKEG’s next artistic showcasing

We are sending a huge congratulations to local SA artist, Jacek Limanowka, also known by his artist name ‘SKEG‘, for having his works selected to be displayed at the ITSLIQUID Group (in collaboration with EGO’ Boutique Hotel and ACIT Venice ((Italian-German Cultural Association)) 2022 exhibition, ANIMA MUNDI, in Venice!

Jacek Limanowka is an Adelaide-based artist working primarily in oil on canvas. He has been painting for nearly 30 years following a life-changing accident that saw him receive physical and emotional scars. His artistic practice has been used as a means to heal him emotionally throughout his ongoing recovery. Because of his reduced mobility with one arm, but also as a form of emotional release, Jacek took up painting for occupational therapy. From the very start Jacek’s paintings were very ‘unusual’ and vivid, created with colourful oils and pastels.

Many years on, he is now sending a range of selected artistic works (including the work in the above and below images) all the way around the world to Venice to be presented in the ANIMA MUNDI exhibition. These five artworks, which are all oil on canvas, are from a grouping titled “Autumn Rhythms”.

Over the years, Jacek’s artistic style became more abstract, with plenty of experimentation with colour frequencies in different styles. He found inspiration in Mosaic painting, which has its origins in the many churches he visited during his childhood in Poland. Each church was filled with richly coloured stained glass windows, an influence that can definitely be found visually in the work Jacek has sent off to Venice, with his extra creative addition of random colour placement.

“How is form made – it follows a rhythm. There is an underlying rhythm to everything”.

Jacek Limanowka

From the outset, Jacek has been interested in frequencies in colour and the way in which different colours interact together in a random fashion.

 Inside a bright, white art gallery space with variously leveled walls and plinths containing artworks, SKEG's multi-coloured, mosaic-like, small square artworks hang in a vertical straight line to the right. These are surrounded by other sculptures and paintings.

ITSLIQUID is a communication platform for contemporary art, architecture and design and is based on fluidity, motion, connection and accessibility – making things easy to do. Their exhibition, ANIMA MUNDI, is an international exhibition of photography, painting, video art, installation/sculpture, and performance art, that will be held at Palazzo Bembo on the Venice Grand Canal, Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello and in other prestigious venues during the 59th Venice Biennale of Art.

The festival focuses on the concept of ANIMA MUNDI, which, according to several historical cultures, religions and philosophical systems, is an intrinsic connection between all living entities on the planet, which relates to the world in a similar way as the human soul is connected to the human body. In relation to this, Jacek lists finding inspiration in a heart beat, ideas, brain function, the earth having rhythms, seasons and and multi-millennium changes.

Plato expressed his thought about the Anima Mundi in the Timaeus, “this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence… a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related”. And Jacek’s work fits in beautifully with this theme!

You can head to Jacek’s Artist Profile here.

The IT’S LIQUID GROUP have another opportunity to exhibit in Europe for artists to enter – find the opportunity to exhibit in London here.

UPDATE: Through the Venice exhibition Jacek has had offers to further exhibit in Italy, Switzerland and France and we are thrilled!