Kirsty Budge 'Gawkalitis' artist statement

gawkalitis /ɡɔːkəˈlʌɪtɪs/ n. a condition where one stares intensely for sustained periods (usually diagnosed by the subject of staring): “Someone has a bad case of gawkalitis.” (see also: “Someone got eyes for Christmas.”)

I was born with incurable gawkalitis. In my early childhood I found great satisfaction in the mass collection of personal information. I would snoop through the photo albums and bookshelves of family friends, eavesdrop on “adult” conversations in the next room. I would spy through the helpful crack of a warped door frame and absorb the full spectrum of human interaction. I have since reined in some of the less socially acceptable behaviours but I am still a nosey parker and a chronic stickybeak. I still really want to know what the couple in the apartment downstairs are fighting about.

As I’ve grown older that fascination with observing people has led to a pretty healthy appetite for “reality television”. Now there’s no judgement from my corner, you’re in a safe space, but it must be said that in reference to these works I’m talking about a specific sub- genre within the unhelpfully broad catch-all definition of “reality tv”. I need fly on the wall, I need narcissists and normals trying to make it work, I need “housewives of” the world, bar staff, super-yacht crews, southern land owners with terrible gender politics, everything in between and the yet to be conceptualised. I want as little editorialising as possible in the most extreme social groupings possible. Also, I don’t need to like these people to love them.

This body of work explores this desire to watch -and the evolutionary benefits of watching- other people, whether it be on the street, through a distant kitchen window or on your tv/ laptop. I’m interested in how glimpses of vulnerability, motivation, decay and victory in the lives of others can provide greater self-awareness to the viewer and aid in finding further clarity. The risk free simulation of observation.

These paintings incorporate a very specific language sifted from certain pop culture references mentioned above. Acting as a bridge between personal experience and the final image, these references are used as symbols for mirrored personal behaviours, feelings, and coping mechanisms. Using humour and emotional vulnerability I aim to synthesise the challenge of how to live with oneself and others in a forward thinking and conscious way.

Kirsty would like to thank Tom Budge, Gwynneth Budge, Megan Sprague, Ash Lawson, Emeka Anele, Jordy Marani, Brodie Lancaster and her real friends that don’t know her yet, Andy Cohen, the Bravo editors and The Bitch Sesh Podcast.