Karen Woods is a contemporary textile/mixed media artist based in the UK. She has established a unique area of practice for Arts into Health working with a huge variety of groups from galleries, NHS branches, service users, schools and colleges. She has published two books to date for A & C Black on textiles and mixed media, and also awareness booklets for the NHS. Her own studio work is predominately textiles and mixed media; it is bright and quirky with figurative and narrative elements, using rich colours threads and fabrics.
‘As a maker I am seduced by the actual physicality of materials; the touch, smell and almost cathartic nature of a long drawn out creation process. I admit for me there is a certain romance to low tech materials being implemented with an investment in time and skills adding to the emotional value of a piece. However, I am not a complete Luddite and use technology to bring a contemporary take to the work. I want the beauty of the craft and skill to be paramount, but also the beauty of the concept.”
While continuing to work in textiles as a main medium, her palette has expanded to print, cad and blacksmithing in order to be fluent with many more materials depending upon the theme or idea to be explored. Her interest is still firmly routed in actively making work that enables her to engage with a variety of processes and experimental outcomes.
“ It is through the making process that I am able to develop my ideas and ways of thinking, and is not just a means to an end.”
Working with a substance not traditionally associated with textiles and may carry different connotations if used out of context was a conscious decision. She deliberately chose to take the medium beyond what people imagine textiles to be; and create the piece in a medium perceived as masculine and connected to industry. Translating historical patterns into mild steel and then re sewing by hand back into the metal worked well for her hybrid way of working. The narrative is still there in this development either through content or marks of the hand.
This textiles/metal hybrid is in the next stage for developing into interior pieces and sculptural applications.
Watch this space.