The winner of the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair retail showcase award in 2019, Karen trained as a ceramicist at Glasgow School of Art (1993; Master of Design 1994) but switched to working in textiles around 2006, for a number of reasons including an injury to both forearms. She hadn’t initially intended to use textiles but finds she can think through cloth and get inspiration from its material qualities, so it just naturally became her main medium. In October 2009 she went full time and set up her company, Nameless Wonders, working from her studio in Glasgow’s east end.
Karen is inspired by a huge range of subjects, including old toys, Staffordshire pottery, animation, books, classic horror and sci-fi movies, and urban wildlife.
Her work is materials and process based and mostly happens quite spontaneously. She usually doesn’t sketch or do any other planning, preferring to just start working with a selected range of materials and allowing the object to evolve organically. Too much thought tends to result in an object with an unsatisfyingly stiff or stilted appearance.
Most of the work is one offs, but there are some small multiples, such as the Bad Guys and Harris Tweed cats. However, as all are hand stitched and no attempt is made to exactly replicate anything, no two are ever alike.
Making techniques are simple and traditional, using only hand processes, vigorously stitched and with a rough finish, emphasising the process of making and all the endearing flaws that can result from this. By doing so Karen hopes to give each object a sense of vitality and character.