‘Karen Karen’ is Karen’s artist’s name, adopted 15 July 2016.
The name was formed as a response to internal questions of artistic identity within a contemporary art practice. It is simply Karen’s first name made to also work as her surname; selected for its formal/informal play when in use and its multiple potentials to be neutral, vague, emphatic, abstracted, gendered, branded yet obscure.
Karen works with the processes of sculpture in response to both the formal properties of sculpture and the context and experience of encountering the sculptural object itself.
For years she has habitually hoarded scavenged objects and materials both manmade and natural as starting points, either for visual and tactile exploration or for direct use in the construction of works. A long-running interest has been with the use of mirrors as a material, played out physically and photographically. Works developed from the starting point of a given site or local material are also particularly fruitful. Her home-studio garden has developed over time, displaying a mix of ‘site-specific’ works that interact with the setting, human input or changing conditions. Further afield works have been assembled using material found along the coast in response to both human and elemental forces.
“When I develop work, the choices of material and process are initially linked to a desire to physically work with and interact with form and matter. As works evolve, they may reference histories or the context of site and engagement or half known/remembered things in the world. Works are allowed to develop language, interactions and potential choreographies which emerge instinctively over time.”
Karen was born to a youth hostelling, car body repairer, and a lab technician. She was the oldest of four children by six years. As a child, she enjoyed wandering alone, unsupervised for hours, along disused railways tracks, into overgrown grounds of decaying houses and exploring forgotten wild spaces at the edges and between the gaps of sub/urban territories.
As an adult, her meanderings took her first to the faded Victorian seaside resort of Southport, then to the Regency architecture bubble of Leamington Spa. Pushing south, in 2008, she discovered the Isle of Wight and moved her home and studio base to Freshwater Bay.
Selected Exhibitions & Installations
2018, ‘Building’: installation with Lisa Traxler, 28 Jan, part of ‘Start’18’ International Celebration of Contemporary Sculpture, Sculpture Network, The Bunker, Ventnor IOW
2017, ‘Open Studios’ guest artist at Foal Arts, Ryde, IOW
2017, ‘Shifting Light’, installation, Yarmouth Gallery, IOW
2015, ‘Belief’, Depozitory Studios, Ryde, IOW
2015, ‘‘Mirrors Nature’, Bus Stop Gallery, Totland, IOW
2012, ‘The World in London’ The Photographers Gallery, London
2011, ‘Nine Point Perspective’, Hotshoe Gallery, London
2011, ‘Close Your Eyes and Tell Me What You See’, Gothenburg Museum of Art, Sweden (catalogue)
2010, ‘Re: Landscape’, Viewfinder Gallery, London
2010, ‘Inside-Outside’, Piano Primo Gallery, Lecce, Italy
2008, ‘Spectre’, installation, Brighton Media Centre, Brighton Photo Biennial Fringe
2006, ‘Unravelling Photography’, Quay Arts Centre IOW (catalogue)
2005, ‘Living Rooms’, installations, ESC Gallery/Cultural City Network, Graz, Austria
2005, ‘Urbanbodies’, 127 Brick Lane, Whitechapel, London
2004, ‘Now You’ve Seen It’, New Art Gallery Walsall
2004, ‘Imprint of The Orient/The West’, Gallery Works, Osaka, Japan
2003, ‘New Contemporaries’, Manchester Cornerhouse & Victoria Miro, London (catalogue)
2010-11, Julia Margaret Cameron Trust, IOW, UK
2005, Cultural City Network, Graz, Austria
2004, New Art Gallery, Walsall, UK
Curating/Lead Artist Experience
2016, ‘Pair Shaped Show’ self-curated group show, Karen Karen Studio, IOW
2012, Curator of the Permanent Collection, Julia Margaret Cameron Trust, IOW
2011-12, Lead artist, fundraising and delivery, photographic heritage development and workshops for Julia Margaret Cameron Trust.
2005- 2007, Image Archive Curator and Arts Council fundraising and delivery of an analog to digital project for the Stereoscopic Society of Great Britain.
National Media Museum, Bradford
University of the Arts, London
2009, MA Photography (Fine Art), University of the Arts London
2003, BA(Hons) Fine Art, University of Central England