As an artist-designer-maker and workshop facilitator, I enjoy exploring materials and experimenting with techniques in order to make my creative ideas real. In recent years I have been absorbed in making suspended sculptures, using translucent waste plastics has enabled me to explore light, shadow and movement.
What feeds my imagination?
When walking on the coast, through woods and across fields in the Norfolk countryside, I observe the effect of changing light on the landscape and particularly on small details such as spiders’ webs and filtering through a canopy of leaves. Gardening gives me the opportunity to study plant shapes as flowers and seed pods. Environmental issues capture my attention – the plight of bees, marine wildlife conservation, etc. A prevailing interest of many years is the amazing invisible forms within the sea – phyto-plankton (not just amazing aesthetically but act as carbon sinks).
Working as a designer-maker
After graduating with a degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing in 1990, I started my career as a jewellery designer-maker by being selected to take part in Chelsea Crafts Fair, which quickly enabled me to sell and exhibit my nylon jewellery nationally and internationally in galleries and museum shops such as the Crafts Council Gallery Shop at the V& A Museum and the Guggenheim Museum Shops in New York. I joined the Index of Selected Makers at the Crafts Council in 1995. Receiving an award for innovation for jewellery in 1996 (Best New Product) at the Crafts from Britain Show in Harrogate and for a floorlamp, “Most Innovative New Product” Award at the British Craft Trade Fair. Also being part of a British group of makers exhibiting at the San Francisco International Gift Fair with the Crafts Council in ’96 and ’97.
I started to deliver workshops in 1998 alongside working as a jeweller. A desire to work on a larger scale and interest in community and public art lead to a MA degree in Design by Independent Project (Brighton University), a large scale sculptural lightwork was made, which related to its' location through materials and form.
Why "Footprint Arts"?
About sixteen years ago I decided to reduce my ecological footprint and change from working with nylon, which I had used to create jewellery. Already teaching and working with community groups, I started to recycle plastic packaging materials in the workshops. The investigation and research required to find out what could be done with these materials was just as exciting as the earlier discoveries of how to work with nylon. Hence "Footprint Arts" was born out of my intention to reduce my own environmental footprint and design workshops which were a fun way to encourage people to be creative with waste materials available at home, work or school. The “add-on” activities can enrich the workshops and are intended to raise awareness of other issues, apart from waste reduction, which are linked to sustainable living.
Karen is an Arts Award Adviser for Bronze and Silver levels. The Arts Award is for young people aged 11 - 25 years old and is about enjoying the arts through improving their own skills, seeing the work of other artists and running their own arts project. The three levels of the Arts Award are equivalent to levels 1, 2 and 3 on the National Qualifications Framework.
Karen's studio base is in Norwich, Norfolk, however art workshops can be provided in other areas of the UK and are usually delivered by two of us.
Artwork images and CV can be found on Axisweb, www.axisweb.org/p/karenwhiterod
For more past jewellery images, visit the Index of Selected Makers at the Crafts Council.