Karen Sewell is an Auckland based artist working in sculpture, installation, photography, drawing, and painting.
We asked her a for the latest in the lead up to our show City Lights
How did you establish your style and how would you describe it?
I I began forming my style while at art school. Experimenting with different types of materials and going on treasure hunts for items from popular culture. Working with animals as a motif and (often) protagonist, emerged in my earlier photography work. I would describe my style as whimsical, pop and playful.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
My work has been informed and inspired by the work of other international artists, in particular, the surreal worlds of Australian artist Louise Weaver, the thoughtful, curious worlds of German sculptor and multimedia artist Cosima Van Bonin and the work with animals of Italian multimedia artist Paola Pivi.
What is the one instrument indispensable to your creative process? What couldn't you work/live without?
My art journals. Everything starts there from quick sketches to working drawings, thoughts, titles, installation plans and to do lists! All jumbled up but it works and is something I couldn’t do without.
How have you incorporated light into In Paradise, can you describe what that component aims to reveal or say about your work.
Light is incorporated on the work in LED strip around the base to light the lower part and directly from lights on the ground for the upper part of the sculpture. The fabric I am using has reflective silver patterns within it that will reflect a glitzy glow. Highly symbolic, second only, perhaps, to the Christmas tree, the palm tree symbolises nature, vacation, affluence and a carefree life. Is the (outside of us) seductive glitzy light that shines from culture and advertisers enough to really see? Or is it merely a reflection of what that system would have us see and believe. The challenge and invitation is, to reflect on what we really value in life.
Finally, what one piece of advice you have received or would like to give that has guided you in your career?
Work as hard as you can, think immensely, go for the slow burn - it’s a lifelong journey. And most important of all TRUST YOURSELF!