Karen Stamper


Born in Yorkshire, Karen Stamper attended art college in Bradford then headed south to far sunnier countries, spending ten years travelling and working overseas. Karen spent the next ten years travelling and working overseas. She is a collector, traveller, observer, an adventurer. Her sketchbook is her best travel companion and recently she has returned to drawing and mark making more and more. Pre covid, Karen started a series of drawings from the allotments, and in lockdown this has moved onto flowers.

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.

My work has the overall sense of a painting, but as you look closely, you will see that it is skilfully built up using layers of found papers, tissue and acrylic paint.

Many hours are spent deliberating over compositions, I collage and paint. I conceal, reveal and recompose, deliberately avoiding representational clarity.

Increasingly there is a strong abstract element, but still with some recognisable elements. I want to capture the memory of a place and the sense of human presence, echoing the passing of time.

Karen Stamper