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RE-abSORptioN of Objects inTo The fabRIC of LIFe

Grounded  2013​​

Mixed Red Tape 2013

Exploring the language of sculpture and installation Karen Turner uses a range of materials from everyday objects to ready-mades. Her interdisciplinary practice places a strong emphasis on our relationships and interventions with the ‘stuff’ we keep and that hold sentimental and nostalgic meaning.

Interested in ideas and questions around obsession, destruction, memory and attachments she pushes herself to an acceptance or rejection around the manipulation of her chosen things.  Always sourced from her personal collections or the collections of friends and family, attempting to take a non-sentimental approach to a sensitive material and treating it as that, ‘a material’…

Karen’s material choices and her manipulation of them also raise questions around value, consumerism, environment and even decoration… Are her objects worth more because of their sentimental value or through the destruction of the object the sentimental value disappears? Leaving just decoration…

Encouraging her audience to question their own perception and the value they place on these objects once they have been crafted into something that is unrecognizable as a thing but still recognizable as a material that speaks a language, appearing on one hand familiar, but equally abstract.

In her attempt to create installations that spontaneously work within a space. She manages to demand critical discussion but also creates an ambiguous aesthetic and natural lucidity. In other words you are encouraged to question BUT as importantly admire the work solely for its beauty.

Karen manipulates and de-constructs her chosen materials in an attempt to create new relationships and meaning. Adding mirrors, movement, sound and video works she opens up the audience reading allowing reflection and personal interpretation throughout the experience, encouraging the viewer to negotiate the installation making links and narratives between the individual works and themselves.

Key elements within her work are location and positioning with audience participation fundamental to bringing the installation together. Sound and movement created through natural resources for example wind, touch and light means that the work is in a constant state of flux. Objects may suggest a meaning in one location/position, and then something very different in another within a single work or installation.   

“As an artist, the intention of creating is to present works to which the viewer responds on a visceral level; a context within which they are transported to a place somewhere within their own past, and which visually and poetically unsettles perceptions of time and place” Sutapa Biswas

Karen’s recent work ‘Re-absorption of objects into the fabric of Life’ utilizing her family’s (pre-digital) photo and music collection has initiated an intense line of thought around peoples response to the destruction of what people see as a memory, not an object. Even when the object is no longer useful, they still hold a memory/trace of time. When used within an art practise Karen believes they become more relevant in society’s history as a means of creating both an individual and collective narrative.

The use of mirrors within the work deals with issues around how people deal with their own image. Like a photograph that has caught you in bad light or at an unappealing angle that in today’s digital age quickly gets deleted or in the past was ripped up.

 “When I was a child, there was a charity called Sunny Smiles. At school, around the age of eight or nine, we were given their tiny little books, containing hundreds of images of orphaned children. The idea was each page could be torn out and sold for a penny. All the money was then sent to orphanages around the UK. The sad thing was that all the cute babies and toddlers would sell in a flash. Then we were left with the not-so-attractive older unwanted children” Tracey Emin.

She finds interest in peoples ease at destroying or dismissing the offending object if it does not please the viewer aesthetically.

Karen’s intention with her material choices deliberately creates work that is familiar to all while also tapping in to our individual sense of self. They are chosen for their cultural, universal and recognisable nature.


Always reflecting on her own upbringing and status within her family and community Karen’s work holds a very personal feel with all elements of her installations having honesty within their making. Obsessive repetitive acts and a representation to a loved one usually expressed through numbers, un-noticeable to an audience but clear within the artists psyche.

Her influences range from Nam Jun Paiks ‘Exposition of Music’ 1963 to discussing happiness as a subject with Jonas Mikas, inspired by the Avant garde, fluxus and the situationalist.

Karen describes herself as agnostic in her approach to all art forms, movements, histories and research.  Her aim is to develop a practice that evolves, bringing together and engaging with her audience, community, family and friends. Working within a social practice with the intention of attempting to close the gap between galleries, institutions, community based projects and alternative art scenes.  


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