Kirkwood Brothers

Selected Small paintings by the Kirkwood Brothers

Our artists this month are Brothers from Glasgow, Jonny and Jordon  Kirkwood. Working collaborativly, they make paintings, sculptures, zines and posters about mental health, scottish identity, japanese cartoons , and other interesting things. Jonny Kirkwood agreed to meet me for an online chat to talk about the work they make.

 Jonny met me at
Ben Duax and Jonny Kirkwood in Conversation

Thanks for joining me

No worries! Thanks for having me

 I was thinking I could ask you about a few specific pieces you’ve posted or included in your email, but first i was wondering if you’d talk a little about your process as a collaborator

Cat in a bucket

yeah sure, just fire the questions over. Our collaboration started quite a while ago. Obviously Jordon is my brother so it’s been life long but I started making art about Autism way back when I studied at college. Then I sort of started going off in another direction during art school at first. Before long though I realised there was something there between me and my brother where this pretty rich work was getting made. So it just turned into a really natural way of making work while chatting away in the studio.

its interesting to collaborate on a physical object, or a specific visual project, its less as opposed to an installation or a narrative piece

Yeah we quite often work on the same piece of paper or canvas at the same time. Right now there’s a bit more going back and forth, but we’ve weirdly been making even more work than usual.

the same canvas, like on opposite ends? have you ever looked at the work of the CoBRA artists? they worked on collaborative paintings as a sort of marxist gesture, but there are a few examples the basquiat and warhol collaborations for example,or those twin brothers from “spring breakers”

Aye well we done that once, like sat a big canvas down then kept rotating it till it was covered ha but mostly we just lean over each other or take turns. Yeah, I looked into it a lot while in my last year at art school. There’s also these Dundee based brothers that I liked a lot too, I think it was Brownlee Brothers? And Basquiat is definitely one I always come back to for a little inspiration

Brownlee Brothers, I will look that up

They deep fried a sword, that was me sold on them.

 Something like the lady in the lake giving king arthur the sword? or like the inversion of the sword being forged Kind of something to do with Scottish identity? 

Yeah! they fried it in batter. I guess I’ve always liked playing on that Scottish identity theme too so I’m drawn to work that works with it.

I saw the photo of your Maw with “Maw” written in sharpie

like not “mum” not “mom”

haha Aye she was surprisingly really up for helping us with that photograph. Less than impressed when she found out we were using it for an exhibition

A Portrait of the Brothers Mother

I also wanted to ask about dispersion, your  work is kind of suited to social media, I guess because of the scale and also the content has sort of hooks for the audience , pop culture references.

Aye I used to be quite naive with social media but I’ve really looked into how platforms like Instagram work, it really suits our work. There’s usually so much of it that it sort of needs condensed, it also fits nicely with that fast and furious finger swiping. Quite often I’ll try and tie the posts in with what’s going on in the media or other times I just throw it out there.

Work by the Kirkwood Brothers

You’ve also made zines and done zine workshops, which is kind of a similar way of prioritizing content or the speed of dispersion?

Zines were a way for us to filter our smaller drawings, the ones that might be cast to the side. they also really help us to understand narratives in the work

More Narrative Work

What about the missing parakeet poster?

That’s actually based on our Mum “accidentally” leaving our veranda door open when we were wee. We had a budgie called Dude who was honestly possessed by Satan, One day we came in and he was sitting on the tree outside our flat. My mum swears it was a mistake but I’ve always had my suspicions..

painting of the Brothers pet parekeet Budgie

Are there any  exhibitions or publications that you’ve seen recently that really impressed you? like in glasgow or anywhere, people are looking at art online a lot these days so could be anywhere really

I’ve not actually been to an exhibition in a long time. I guess it’s mostly been online that I’ve been looking at work. I always come back to artists like Kentaro Okawara and Misaki Kawai. Okawara tends to have symbols or characters that appear in his work a lot and that’s something I’ve come to realise about our own practice. There’s a lot of repetitive patterns

I’ve actually really enjoyed seeing all the murals that keep popping up in Glasgow. There’s a real street art scene coming to fruition

Do you have anything else on the horizon? 

We’ve got a few things in the works, an exhibition coming up in England that’s really exciting and then some work showing in SaltSpace in Glasgow . Then a few other wee social media features here and there.

Great one last question i’ve been asking everyone, is can you tell us about a guilty pleasure something you really like, but think is dumb/embarrising

There’s so many! We still watch a lot of cartoons. Like this morning I watched Pokemon while eating cereal in my boxers. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure at the age of 28. I also try my hardest not to care so much about football. But it almost feels ingrained, it’s something I’ll often say is really daft but can’t shake off.

haha great,

Well thank you for joining me

Thanks so much! This is a great way of interviewing, was pretty relieved when I realised it was this and not zoom!!

yeah i can’t handle zoom, it removes the elegant thing about text based interaction which is that either party can pause it to some degree

Aye I definitely need pauses. Not the best at articulating my thoughts when I’m speaking on camera. 

Check out the Kirkwood Brothers on Instagram

interview by Ben Duax.

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