Kirsten Riley

Kirsten has a theatrical background. She was a founder member of Playwrights East and has acted, directed and taught Speech and Drama. She has always been fascinated by the way art is used as a means of expression and has spent many years encouraging and eliciting this in some form or another. About 18 years ago she began to sculpt and work with clay exploring a new medium in order to enhance her own means of expression and creative instinct. She took a City and Guilds course in Creative Techniques and exhibited and sold her work. This led to painting and a diploma course at Anteros in Norwich and many other courses in drawing and painting in different mediums. She now has a studio in the centre of Norwich surrounded by a community of artists and continues to create, exhibit and sell her work.

The Themes that inspire her are the changing and challenging outside world and her own inner world. It is often the ebb and flow of life and how it has formed and effected her and her own subconscious that she is reflecting on and exploring through her art.

She works freely in mixed media and is often led by the process, layering and stripping back, adding and subtracting, working on several pieces at once in a call and respond practice. She feels there is some alchemy involved when the work takes over and evolves.

‘Disentangling a Dream’ has been shortlisted in the Holt Festival art prizes July 2021.


  • What is your background?

    I read English and Drama at University and have been involved with the theatre and theatre related projects for most of my life; teaching, acting and directing children and adults. Art as a means of expression is an essential part of my life and I have been fortunate to be in a position to encourage and elicit this in other people. It has also been a career that I was able to manage whilst bringing up three children. With a little more time on my hands I began to sculpt in clay, making handmade forms and sculptures, and loving the organic and tactile process. I exhibited and sold my work and then I began to paint. I have taken courses, drawing and painting in different mediums and since taking the Anteros Diploma in Norwich, I now have a studio surrounded by a community of artists, and I exhibit and sell my work, whilst continuing to learn, experiment and explore.

  • What inspires you and what is your creative process?

    It is often the ebb and flow of life and how is has formed and affected me and my subconscious that I am reflecting on, and exploring through my art. The complexities of mood, memory, loss and transience are some of my larger frames of reference, and the changing and challenging world around me. What lies beneath the surface is a recurring theme and this is reflected in my process, layering and scraping back to sometimes discover surprising outcomes. What is hidden and what is revealed has its own story in life and art, and the history of a painting is a subject in itself.

  • Do you like working on different pieces at the same time?

    I like to work on more than one piece at a time, often in a series of three, allowing each piece to inform the other and I am often led by the process.

  • Who are your biggest influences?

    Many. Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Cezanne, Diebenkorn, Barbara Rae and closer to home, John Kiki, Bruer Tidman and Sally Hirst.

  • How have you stayed inspired and energized during the pandemic?

    It was a very creative period for me and I completed a whole series of work. It was a contemplative time, when I was able to allow myself to stay focussed over a long period. I worked outside in my garden and it was wonderful to be able to stay in the moment. I missed my family and grandchildren greatly.

  • What is/are your favourite medium(s)?

    I work mainly in mixed media.

  • Name an artist(s) you would like to be compared to.

    I should like to have the skill and technique of many but ultimately it is important for me to be authentic and to continue exploring ways in which I can express myself and what I have to say in my own unique voice. A never-ending quest.

  • What subjects do you pursue and why?

    I often think I am trying to paint feelings in response to a place, subject or memory that emerges. I hope there is an emotional drive behind my paintings that draws the viewer in with my use of colour, movement and juxtaposition amongst other things.

  • What do you hope people feel when they view your art?

    Stimulated and intrigued whether that be in a peaceful, challenging or humorous way. I hope they feel alive.


Projects & Collaborations


    I am also part of this group of artists.





    2023 – (17th November to 6th December) – Lingering Memories Exhibition at Fox Yard Studios,  Old Fox Yard, 6, Stowmarket, IP14 1AB

    2023 – (1st – 3rd December) – Art Fair East, St Andrews Hall, Norwich

    2023 – (8th to 18th June) – Shoe Factory Social Club, LAC Exhibition ‘CONFOUND’, Norwich, NR3 3AF, UK, 11am – 5pm daily.

    2023 – (5th – 9th April) – The Spring Art Show, The Forum Norwich, Norwich, UK. For more details visit

    2022 – (9th – 12th November) – Group Exhibition, Forum Norwich, UK

    2022 – (6th – 30th October) – Exhibition ‘Weight and See’, The Undercroft, City Hall, Norwich, UK

    2022 – (8th – 9th October) – Open Studios, Lion House, Muspole Street, Norwich, UK

    2022 – (1st – 2nd October) – Open Studios, Lion House, Muspole Street, Norwich, UK

    2022 – (24th – 25th September) – Open Studios, Lion House, Muspole Street, Norwich, UK

    2022 – (30th May to 13th June) – Shoe Factory, LAC Exhibition ‘Resonance’, Norwich, UK

    2022 – (11th March to 5th May) – Yare Gallery Exhibition ‘Humans – Strength and Frailty’, Great Yarmouth, UK

    2022 – (6th to 10th April) – Forum in Norwich, Spring Art Show, Norwich, UK

    2021 – November – Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th, Hurdle Lane Studios (opposite the Shell Museum), Glandford, Holt, NR25 7JR – 11am – 4pm and Friday evening until 8pm (bring a torch for the carpark!)

    Oct 2021 – 6th – 30th – Exhibition with LAC (the Lonely Arts Club) at the Undercroft Gallery in Norwich, UK, Wed – Sat 11am-5pm

    Sept 2021 – Open Studios HUBBUB group exhibition at St Mary’s House Norwich

    July 2021 – Holt Festival Art Exhibition –two venues; ADRIAN HILL FINE ART, Lees Yard, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 6HS, UK, and, ST. ANDREW’S MEETING ROOM, Church St, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 6BB, UK. 24th – 31st July from 10 – 4pm

    June 2021 – Art Norfolk Group Exhibition at the forum, Norwich

    May 2021, 24th to Sat 29th – ‘Together’ Exhibition, St. Margaret’s Church, St. Benedict’s, Norwich, open daily 11am to 4pm – Kirsten Riley and diverse work from artists associated with Artpocket.

    June 2020 – Belated Spring Art Show, Norwich

    September 2019 – Art Norfolk Group exhibition at the Forum Norwich

    Aug/Sept 2019, Creative Working Lives Group Exhibition St Margaret’s Church, Norwich

    June 2019 – Open Studios Studio St Mary’s House, Norwich

    May 2019 – Open Studios Taster Exhibition at the Forum, Norwich

    April 2019 – Spring Art Show: The Forum, Norwich

    September 2018 – Stuston Lodge Art Exhibition Diss Suffolk

    May/June 2018 – Open Studios at Anteros with fellow diploma artists

    April 2018 – Open Studios taster exhibition at the forum Norwich

    April 2018 – Anteros Arts Diploma final exhibition

    December 2016 – Arts and Crafts Collective Winter Exhibition, St Margaret’s Church Norwich

    May/June 2016 – Discovering Palgrave – Sculpture trail and exhibition

    May/June 2016 – Hoveton Hall Gardens sculpture trail

    Nov/Dec 2016 – Arts and Crafts Collective Winter Exhibition, St Margaret’s Church, Norwich

    May/June 2015 – Open Studios at 118 Vincent Road Norwich

    April 2015 – Open Studios Taster Exhibition at the Forum in Norwich

    August/September 2014 – Caper Art Exhibition at the Fairhurst Gallery, Bedford Street, Norwich

    July 2014 – Summer Exhibition at the Narthex, Norwich

    May/June 2014 – Open Studios at 118 Vincent Road Norwich

    March 2014 – Open Studios Taster Exhibition at the Forum in Norwich

    December 2013 – ‘We are handmade’ at Old Spitalfields Market.

    December 2013 – Christmas at Longs Farm with Jane West, Lynn Hutton, Mike Webb, Jenny Goater and others

    July 2013 – Exhibition at the Narthex, Norwich

    May/June 2013 – Norfolk & Norwich Open Studio 96a.King Street, Norwich

    April 2013 – Contemporary Art exhibition with Jenny Goater, Lynn Hutton, Mike Webb, Jane West: Longs Farm Palgrave, Diss

    April 2013 – Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios Taster Exhibition, the Forum, Norwich

    December 2012 – St Margaret’s Artists Christmas Fair

    May /June 2012 – Open Studios 96a King Street, Norwich Anteros Christmas event Norwich

    April 2012 – Norfolk Open Studios Taster Exhibition

    February 2012 – Norfolk

    December 2011 – Open exhibition, Strangers Gallery, Itteringham

    December 2011 – Artist and Makers Craft Fair, Wymondham

    September 2011 – Art Unequalled, Ely

    May/June 2011 – Open Studios at ‘Old Hall’ South Burlingham with Margaret Steward

    April 2011- Norfolk Open Studios Taster Exhibition. The Forum, Norwich