At Art College, Karen was immediately drawn to the dense flat colours of silk screen printing. It was on a college travel scholarship to Paris that she discovered turquoise shutters, red chequered tablecloths and curling iron balconies: shapes and colours so frivolous to her, growing up in the worn, tough, solid fishing town of Hull. It was in Paris that she saw Matisse’s cut-outs for the first time; it wasn’t just the scale of his work but the intensity, the pin holes, crease lines and torn edges that fired her imagination to work with collage papers.
From the stepping stone of Paris, Karen continued travelling to sunnier countries, working in Turkey, Greece, France, India, Morocco, the Caribbean, eventually settling in New Zealand before returning to the UK ten years later. her sketchbooks continue to be a memory bank, not just of the scenes before her, but a collection of urban marks, rust stains, peeling paint and local paper ephemera.
Working in mixed media, combining found papers with layers of painted tissue and acrylic paint to create a vibrant integrated surface, Karen can create a patchwork of places. memories and journeys, all bonded together; some fading, some peeling, some permanent. The slick, the shiny and new makes little impression on her; it is the worn, weathered and once loved that catches her attention.