Artist in Residence at University Arts Centre
|The anonymous ceramic objects on her studio shelf are small and rather delicate, with a harmonious symmetry. The group of interested people gazing at them seem slightly stunned to find they are of pigs’ ovaries. But to Karen Welsh, Ceramic Sculptor and current Artist in Residence at the University of Leicester Richard Attenborough Centre, this mix of anatomy, science and art is one of the fundamental influences in her work.|
Karen has been awarded a bursary as part
of a national programme of artists’ residencies co-ordinated by The Art House
in collaboration with partner organizations and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn
Foundation. These residencies have been specifically created to help disabled
and non-disabled artists to access paid work opportunities.
The Richard Attenborough Centre is an
arts centre which is open to everyone and which strives to provide maximum
access for people with disability. The purpose of this three-month residency is
to enable Karen Welsh to produce a body of new work culminating in a significant
solo exhibition, as well as to create opportunities for the public, artists and
university students to interact with a practising artist. Running until the end
of May 2003, the residency also involves working with new audiences, including
women from the Ni’mah Centre in Leicester through an Adult Learners’ Week
Activity Grant from the European Social Fund.
The daughter of a doctor, Karen Welsh
grew up with medical journals and medical images, and developed an interest in
how the body works and its parts react together. In exploring this, and other
issues, through the medium of ceramics she was aware of the potential to shock.
Karen commented: “The strength of my
images shocked people to the extent that the original meaning of the work was
partially lost. Creating work with a strong element of beauty, with a hidden
angle, attracted the audience to visually and intellectually interact with the
Engineering and the physical sciences
also play a part in Karen Welsh’s work. A ceramic piece showing a tangled, yet
choreographed, mass of bodies was actually constructed through virtual reality
techniques previously only used as an industrial process. She is very interested
in developing this further and plans to incorporate virtual and digital
techniques in her work, while also, conversely, working from life and using
traditional sculpture skills to create something more technical.
Other influences on Karen’s art include
cultural concepts, issues around the body, physical form and gender, stereotypes
(often hidden) and ancient mythologies. She is fascinated by the transience of
history and the interaction between the male and female psyche. She feels
resistance exists around the traditional English viewpoint that clay represents
craft, rather than a sculptural medium.
|Intra -, a solo exhibition of new work arising from Karen Welsh’s residency, will run at the Richard Attenborough Centre, University of Leicester, until Friday, July 11, 2003. There will be a viewing and reception with the artist on Saturday, May 31, between 4 pm and 6 pm.|
Karen Welsh originally studied Chemistry,
but felt the theoretical subject lacked room for personal creativity. She
subsequently read art at the University of the West of England, graduating in
2000. As part of her degree course she studied at the Kunst Akademie in S-Hertogenbosch
in the Netherlands, on a SOCRATES placement. There she felt inspired by her
teachers and able to express herself freely. She worked for a while with the
Dutch artist Thom Puckey, as his assistant at the European Work Centre for
Ceramics, where he created two large-scale ceramic sculptures to international
Karen is currently on a studio programme
at the Yorkshire Artspace in Sheffield, and is artist in residence at the
University of Leicester Richard Attenborough Centre.
has applied for an Arts Council Grant to work with arts and engineering and has
further plans to work with the Loughborough University, Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
Department on an exploratory project.
TO EDITORS: For more information on the exhibition or
on the Richard Attenborough Centre please contact Tim Feasey, Richard
Attenborough Centre, University of Leicester, tel. 0116 252 2455, fax 0116 252
5165, email email@example.com
The Art House is a membership
organisation for visual artists and craftspeople that is dedicated to creating
equality of opportunity for people with and without disabilities.
For further information, please contact David Gilbert at The Art House on
Further information is available from Karen Welsh who can be contacted via Tim Feasey at the Richard Attenborough Centre, tel 0116 252 2455, fax 0116 252 5165, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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