Life & Style


Contemporary artist known for her large-scale murals around Newcastle

There’s no doubt that Newcastle has a bustling creative community, which seems to have boomed in recent years. But one thing we’ve seen more in more is the ‘popping-up’ of murals across our city. If you’ve recently ducked into the Edwards, swung by Wildflower Espresso in Wallsend or called into Jam’s Karaoke Bar, you would have noticed the beautifully donned walls. The artist behind them? The ever so lovely Kiasmin Burrell.

Not only known for her murals, Kiasmin is unique in her creation of one-off oil works. You read that right, each piece made is completely original and unlike any other.

Growing up in the Hunter Valley, Kiasmin remembers a childhood full of making mess, roaming around barefoot, and even reminisces on her very first interaction with oils.

“When I was in primary school, this lady came over with a box of oils that she never used, and it was the first time I’d seen oils, and I remember thinking, ok this is serious painting. I’d never touched them before, and I remember getting them out that afternoon and sitting on my bedroom floor with a piece of calico, and I just remember that beautiful wellbeing feeling.

“I was just in that moment and painting. I still tangibly remember how that exact moment felt. Even when I’m painting now, it doesn’t happen all the time, but I still get those really sweet moments; I think that’s why we create, because we’re getting to this beautiful space, and you want to stay there and keep creating.”

Kiasmin at The Edwards.
Kiasmin at The Edwards.

Following high school, and a short stint as a vocalist (turns out Kiasmin had a bit of stage fright to pursue that career), Kiasmin ended up studying Fine Art. Firstly at Avondale, but moving to the University of Newcastle to complete the degree, although it did take her quite a number of years!

“I was studying it when I got married, but at the end of the marriage I went back, finished it, and it has just organically done its own thing. I haven’t sought after work or made a commercial design by it; it’s just made its own way. I think there’s something really beautiful about authentically just being yourself. I feel like I just did a big detour, and this is where I should have always been.”

It’s hard to believe Kiasmin has really only been an ‘artist’, in the official terms of it, for the past five years. As talking to many business owners and creatives across town, they’ll all tell you they’ve either heard of, know of or have seen Kiasmin’s work.

“I always thought that the word artist was such a special word. You know how everyone calls themselves artists these days, for years and years I really struggled to call myself an artist because I thought it was such a special thing. I’d always put it on a pedestal and I’d always wanted to be that.”

At the heart of everything Kiasmin does, is the pure feeling of being able to create. On her website she has a long list of artistic pursuits; from commission artist, art instructor, art exhibition curator, and book illustrator. But when I asked what her favourite part of her work is;

“Painting with freedom.”

If that isn’t the truest reflection of an artist right there; I don’t know what is.

Only recently finishing two separate murals at Westfield Kotara, Kiasmin still remembers her very first mural piece, which was created on the walls of her very own home!

“I still do that. I’ve actually just repainted some walls white so they’re now ready to go again. Every now and then I just need a refresh. But I was not at all thinking I would become a muralist, again, it’s just been one of those things that have evolved on its own.”

From those very first walls, she’s journeyed right into the heart of Newcastle with her creations in some of the most prominent parts of town. Once we’re all allowed out into the world again, there are a few spots you can drop by to check out some of Kiasmin’s work in the flesh. The Edwards, Wildflower Espresso, Wildflower City, Westfield Kotara, Estabar (check out the umbrellas), and Jam’s Karaoke just to name a few. If you’re after wearable art, check out Myriam Swim; the pair collaborated on the most recent collection; Botanica.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with clients that just go, here’s a wall - do whatever you want. Which is just the best gift you can give to an artist.

“Sometimes I might have a shape in mind, or I might have a general vibe I was going for. For instance, with Jam’s you wanted it to be fun and quirky and even a bit of a hat off to the 90s. Then I just start. Once you start, it journeys with you and you journey with it. Then you just come to a conclusion at some point, and you don’t realise what you’ve really created.”

Alongside her many projects, Kiasmin is also a part of The Station’s Make Space; a collaborative maker’s space, full of Newcastle local artists, designers, and crafters. So, be sure to keep an eye on Kiasmin here on Instagram, as we’re sure she’ll be bringing nothing but good vibes to the Newcastle community with not only her beautiful murals but workshops for adults and kids to be held in the future. For now, you can browse/shop her goodies here?

“Art benefits so many people on so many different levels. You don’t know what people are going through and to just splash some joy with paint, that is just the best feeling.”