View All Art Works By Kim Haskins
Still life illustrations which toy with our confectionary-receptor emotions found lying (NEVER) far from the surface in our cerebral vortexes, cheeky chappie animal compositions which are positively illuminated with wit and wisdom and a fine line in jolly good-looking greetings cards which are brimming over with visually explicit sentiment are all found living and breathing in celebrated contemporary fine artist, Kim Haskins’ creative locker. Make no mistake.
In terms of Haskins’ animals, you are presented with a gorgeous choice of either dogs, chickens, birds, rabbits and of course, her trademark cats. Although you might not have necessarily have known about her ‘trademark’ cats had you not been exposed to Haskins’ ‘trademark’ work before now. So, assuming you haven’t, she paints an awful lot of cats. Who’s she?! We hear people shouting in unison. Er, the cat’s mother according to fable; which takes us off on a whole new plain. Away from Haskins’ colourific host of animals, there’s also a plethora of predominantly black and white ink creature features from which to make your selection to.
Born and bred in Hertfordshire’s, Hitchin in 1981, Haskins was referred to as the ‘class artist’ throughout her school years. Which is always better than being known as the ‘class clown’ of course. Unless you wish to be a comedian when you grow up. Haskins would draw pictures in classmates exercise books (invited to, not just wilfully vandalise for the record), create posters for school plays and design T-shirts for fellow students during her formative years. As Haskins’ skillset improved and interest in art escalated, the nucleus of her work fell into two very clearly defined artistic camps. Those of humourous and/or still life; which remains very much the case today too.
In Haskins’ own words – and as we hinted at in the tedious intro – she (sorry, the artist) paints vivacious, witty pictures of a raft of animals, with particular emphasis placed on cats and chickens, alongside of her sporadic ventures into still life pictures of food. Food and objects which put a smile on Haskins’ face. Which I turn puts a massive gurn on the boat race of those of us who are partial to a Haskins original or limited edition print. Jam doughnuts, strawberry tarts and Bakewell tarts being just a few of her (our) favourite things. Cue a collective breaking into Mary Poppins’ song. The thing which nails Haskins’ tart shots is the illustrative magnificence of her crumbling biscuits, oozing jam and cups of deliciously inviting tea.
Bearing in mind the visual excellence and pictorial intensity of her landmark work, it’s faintly ridiculous to think that Haskins’ has received no formal training in art, and is what’s known as ‘a natural’. Or someone who’s ‘gifted’. One step shy of being a child prodigy/chess master at the age of 8. Possessing a strong interest in language and culture, Haskins instead elected not to study art when of youth, but instead swot for a first-class degree in Hispanic Studies at Queen Mary University of London. Which she duly passed with flying colours in 2004, shortly before Haskins toddled off to pastures new (Granada, Spain) for a year, as is often obligatory with newly crowned students.
On Haskins’ return to familiar shores, she joined the press gang as a journalist in London, securing employment with publications and organisations such as the British Council, Youthnet, handbag.com, Sky and more. This exposure to (and working alongside of) another creative hub (people, places, products, services) inspired her still further and afforded her additional travel opportunities. This time paid rather than self-funded we should imagine. Incidentally, and to this day, Haskins continues to write on a freelance basis, and lists writing as a hobby on her CV. Perhaps.
Painting and drawing was something Haskins did in her spare time, and was never something which she considered doing to any commercial effect. That was until her friends noticed just how good she was, as did one of her father’s acquaintances, who himself had been a successful artist for some 40 years. Did we not mention that connection? Well, we have now. Spurred on and motivated by the staggering response she had to her hitherto hobby art, Haskins decided to go for broke in 2009. In the middle of the recession, which she agrees may have looked a trifle foolish and ill-informed to the casual observer. To give up full-time employment in that economic climate/backdrop I order to paint full-time. But hey, sometimes a girl has to do what a girl’s got to do. Same with boys, and thankfully the hard work paid off as Haskins quickly managed to gain crucial wall space in local and regional art galleries and her published prints were reproduced extensively. In the end.
During that same year, 2009, Haskins did something she hadn’t done since she was 13 – and entered her work into an art competition, submitted a painting of Jammie Dodger biscuits called ‘Broken Hearted’ to the 51st Essex Open Art event in her neck of the woods. And to her utter disbelief, it won the Best Still Life category and was the featured image on all publicity material. Which resulted in Haskins’ biscuits being spotted throughout Essex that summer as she put it. Indeed, it’s Haskins’ undoubted deadpan sense of oh-so-English humour which underpins the lion’s share of her compositional work. Hence the manic appearance of my chickens or the vacant expression on the explosively furry cats. As Haskins concludes; “It’s hard to take a 2ft square painting of a doughnut seriously”. Our thoughts completely.