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Karen Wallis

Karen bears witness to the everyday world, using sketchbooks, plein air painting and sound as the basis for developing multi media work.

Karen Wallis draws and paints the everyday world, bearing witness to events around her. She is interested in how art can facilitate conversation and its potential for contributing to the research activity of other disciplines.

Her practice is rooted in observational sketchbook drawing and plein air painting, alongside recordings of conversations and ambient sound. These are developed using any appropriate media to reflect on the situation.  This may include painting, digital media, sound, installation, intervention, or performance. She has also begun to publish books about her projects under the pseudonym of Avis Rara.

Since 2008 she has concentrated on residency work. Three years with The Holburne Museum, during its closure for redevelopment was followed by further projects that explore the interaction between artist and social environment, including a sound portrait with drawings of Bath Ethnic Minority Senior Citizens at Fairfield House in Bath. In 2016, a residency on the Ness of Brodgar excavations in Orkney provided the opportunity to see if she could contribute to archaeological research through perceptual drawing rather than documentation or historical reconstruction. The success of the initial four weeks has now developed into a long term collaboration with the Ness of Brodgar Trust. 

A new area of work is exploring adult relationships with toys. Many people find a toy useful as a companion, a sounding board, or even an alter ego. This project examines, through artwork and conversation, the power of toys to act as another voice for the human, with the aim of promoting a better understanding of their beneficial effects.

Reading on aesthetics and philosophy informs Karen’s work, but visual practice always leads any theoretical input. Her PhD (Painting & Drawing the Nude: a search for a realism of the body through phenomenology & fine art practice - UWE Bristol, 2003) embraced a broad range of art practice in a variety of venues, supported by texts on phenomenology, hermeneutics and alterity.


The cat sat on the laptop

The Power of Toys

Ness of Brodgar Artist's Residency 2016 to date

The Power of Toys - the team

Trench J

Ness of Brodgar visitors' tour

Archaeologist's talisman

Archaeologists at work


View across Structure 8

Supervisor in Structure 8

Work in Structure 8

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