about - KAREN WOOD
I am an artist and urban explorer.
Out on the streets of London, and other cities when visiting, I take photographs of road markings, road signs, construction sites and architecture. My photographs document my pre-occupation with industrial colour, geometric form (with a specific interest in the void-like shape), and the 'spaceinbetween' created within and by these urban landscapes.
As part of my process, I do quick daily observation drawings, where the speed of the drawing and the every-changing landscape allows a sense of movement to be introduced. My drawing medium is electrical tape, which defines industrial colour and helps to create geometric angles, while the transparency of the tape provides an additional sense of space.
In the studio, I am a painter, printmaker, & installation artist. I use my source gathering explorations and further editing processes to show permutations of architecture, cityscapes and roadmarkings with a specific emphasis on how space and movement are controlled and restricted.
For over two years, I have been documenting, through ongoing daily social media posts, my urban explorations and studio work. By giving each post a number and title the daily visual has become an extension of my artist diary to enable sharing with an international platform of interested audiences.
press - ART AESTHETICS
Karen Wood isn’t just an ‘artist’ but an ‘urban explorer’ who conjures art out of the mundane road markings that we abide by—without ever properly seeing—every day. Sam Jacob of the University of Illinois at Chicago and visiting professor at Yale University recently wrote for Dezeen that ‘[r]oads are super complex landscapes. All those speed bumps, arrows, double yellows, zig zags, kerbs, red men, green men, zebra, pelican, puffin and pegasus crossings are both the surface over which we travel and codes that modify and instruct how we travel. They are simultaneously map and territory, abstract markings on the surface of the city that become the city.’ Wood’s Back to the Road (2017) abstracts such road-markings from their “natural” environment. They’re cut-out into modernist works of art. It’s as if they’re inspired by the cut-outs and découpage of Matisse or the De Stijl of Mondrian. Interestingly, the latter is often referred to a neoplasticism and road markings are similarly made with thermoplastic paint in bright colours along predominantly straight edges. It’s interesting, then, to witness the coincidence of the high-brow and the lowly infrastructure of the world in which it all takes place.
Wood’s artworks explore these super complex landscapes in which we live and, especially, the ways in which we’re allowed to move through them. David Harvey’s excursus on Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s renovation of Paris in ‘The Right to the City’ (2008) states that Haussmann ‘created an urban form where it was believed—incorrectly, as it turned out in 1871—that sufficient levels of surveillance and military control could be attained to ensure that revolutionary movements would easily be brought to heel.’ Haussmann sought to control the same city that the flâneur sought to explore. Merlin Coverley’s Psychogeography (2006) states that ‘[l]ike London before it, Paris in the nineteenth century had expanded to the point where it could no longer be comprehended in its entirety. It had become increasingly alien to its own inhabitants, a strange and newly exotic place…characterised as a jungle, uncharted and unexplored, a virgin wilderness populated by savages demonstrating strange customs and practices.’ It’s worth reconsidering the struggle between control (of movement, traffic, etc.) and urban exploration in contemporary London. We’re constantly moving through space. We’re constantly exploring the city. We’re constantly curtailed by the directions for movement therein.
Attila Kotányi and Raoul Vaneigem’s ‘Basic Program of the Bureau of Unitary Urbanism’ (1961) stated that their first task was ‘to enable people to stop identifying with their surroundings and with model patterns of behaviour…We must encourage their scepticism toward those spacious and brightly coloured kindergartens,’ for ‘[o]nly a mass awakening will pose the question of a conscious construction of the urban environment.’ Wood similarly suggests that the colours of ‘controlling signage’ might be described as the ‘hyperreal’ as described by Jean Baudrillard who’s work shares much in common with that of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle (1967) and the other members of the Situationist International as Kotányi and Vaneigem.
Way Through (2017)
Pigment on Canvas
Wood’s Way Through (2017) is in much the same vein of critical and artistic thought in that it distils the experience of walking the city into white, black, and blue. It’s a really pristine reduction of the cacophony of the city into one of its purer forms—not through the eyes or artist’s vision, but through the actual movement of the body through the built environment. Furthermore, someone who collects these artworks collects a part of our contemporary moment: more people live in cities than the countryside for the first time in our history. From gentrification to Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS), the city is increasingly subject to new political and aesthetic visions.
Wood successfully intervenes in these contemporary debates.
press - DESIGN BOOM
Will Sorrell [Director] September 29, 2017
Challenging Borders (2016)
Etching on Somerset Paper
Perfect Suspension (2017)
Karen Wood describes herself as a painter, printmaker, & installation artist. She uses her source gathering explorations to show permutations of architecture, cityscapes and roadmarkings with a specific emphasis on how space and movement are controlled and restricted. Out on the streets of London, and other cities when visiting, Karen takes photographs of road markings, road signs, construction sites and architecture. Karen’s photographs document her pre-occupation with industrial colour, geometric form (with a specific interest in the void-like shape), and the ‘spaceinbetween’ created within and by these urban landscapes.
bio - KAREN WOOD
Group Exhibitions & Collaborations
BlockChainDissentArt Symposium - Winchester School of Art - video link: "Of the hidden the unbidden" (excerpt) Extract from the final video output created for the Blockchain collaboration between Karen Wood and Ashokkumar Mistry for CAS Arts (Chapel Arts Studios)
CAS - BlockChainDissentArt Collaboration - two week on-line Residency
Joined Spitalfields Studios as an Artist - studio 29
CAS - Accepted as an associate Artist by Chapel Artist Studios -
CAS - 2am Workshops
CAS - Postit Exchange Collaboration culminating in Workshops with Winchester School of Art Curatorial Students
Wimbledon Artist Studios - OpenStudios & ArtFair November
The Other Art Fair, Truman Brewery, Bricklane, London UK - October
Wimbledon Artist Studios - Open Studios May
Wimbledon Artist Studios - Open Studios November
Wimbledon Artist Studios - Open Studios May
Honorable Mention Award - NYC4PA Same but Different 2016
New York Center for Photographic Art
Paradise Christmas Fair Nov 22, Gabriel Fine Art, Waterloo, London UK
The Other Art Fair, Truman Brewery, Bricklane, London UK
Artist in Residence, Welcome to Octoville, The Gala Durham UK
The Other Art Fair, Arnolfini, Bristol UK
Open Photograpy, Wellhung, Hoxton UK
Stillness, 44AD Gallery, Bath UK
Studio Artists, 44AD Gallery, Bath UK
Deck the Walls, 44AD Gallery, Bath UK
Transition, Southgate, Bath UK
Urban Myth, Flash II Artist Discussion, 44AD Gallery, Bath UK
MA_AD, Walcot Chapel, Bath UK
H20, 44AD Gallery, Bath UK
tenplusone, 44AD Gallery, Bath UK
MA Graduation, Bath School of Art & Design, Bath UK
Lifelines, Walcot Chapel, Bath UK
Royal West of England Academy 159th Autumn show, Bristol UK
Bath Society of Artists Summer 106th, The Royal Victoria Art Gallery, UK
Regeneration & Pushing Paint, The Octagon, Bath UK
Royal west of England 158th Autumn show, Bristol UK
Bath Society of Artists summer 105th, The Royal Victoria Art Gallery, UK
Royal West of England Academy 157th Autumn show, Bristol UK
Bath Society of Artists summer 104th, The Royal Victoria Art Gallery, UK
Andrew Brownsword Prize winner, Bath Societh of Artists summer 103rd, The Royal Victoria Art Gallery, Bath UK
Best in Show Exhibition, Hot Bath Gallery, Bath UK
2011 Building Cabot Circus, Cabot Circus, Bristol UK
2009 Urban Modern Art, Walcot Chapel, Bath UK
Awards & residencies
2016 Honorable Mention Award - NYC4PA Same but Different
New York Center for Photographic Art - Exhibition on-line
2011 Cabot Circus Residency, Bristol UK
2008 Andrew Brownsword Award, Bath Society of Artists, Bath UK
2007 Best in Show winner, Hot Bath Gallery, Bath UK
2012 Masters in Fine Art (MFA), Bath Spa University, UK
2007 Diploma in Foundation Studies, Art & Design, City of Bath College, UK
1988 BA Humanities (Communication, Realism & 20th Century Culture, Law & Politics, Knowledge & Power) Griffith University, Queensland, Australia