‘Karen Karen’, is my artist’s name adopted 15 July 2016 (now celebrated as a half-birthday).
The name was formed as a response to internal questions of identity within a contemporary art practice. It is simply my first name made to also work as my surname; selected for its formal/informal play when in use and its multiple potentials to be neutral, vague, emphatic, abstracted, gendered, branded yet obscure.
I work with the processes of sculpture in response to both the formal, material and sensory properties of sculpture, as well as the context and experience of encountering sculpture itself.
Specifically, I am interested in making work that physically grounds and focuses the mind on the experience of an object, a place, space or moment. Providing encounters with familiar materials remade to draw in and encourage heightened sense and cerebral responses.
Direct contact with work is increasingly important, both during the making process and providing afterwards either tactile forms and surfaces, built in changeability or user triggered movement.
In the studio as 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.
My home studio garden has helped develop my recent practice, featuring 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.
In May 2018, after looking for several years, I secured a new permanent studio and art space to develop work for, both for interior based sculpture and installation, and exterior garden-scale works – Cottage Cottage.
I was born to a youth hostelling, car body repairer, and a lab technician. I was the oldest of four children by six years. As a child, I 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, my meanderings took me first to the faded Victorian seaside resort of Southport, then to the Regency architecture bubble of Leamington Spa. Pushing south, in 2008, I discovered the Isle of Wight and moved home and studio base to Freshwater Bay.
For several years, as a believer in an independent, DIY ethos, I have been researching for a sustainable model for my art practice. As of May 2018, a new adventure just 10 minutes drive along the coastal road is now underway…
Selected Exhibitions & Installations
2018, ‘Preview Installations’, July, Cottage Cottage, Brighstone Village, Isle of Wight
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, Home 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