Karen Wallis

Overview of Karen’s Project

I spent the summer and part of autumn 2012 as Artist in Residence at Fairfield House, a day centre for BEMSCA (Bath Ethnic Minority Senior Citizens Association).  During the residency I made two sets of drawings:  sketchbook drawings of the locality and activities, and a series of quick portraits of members of the group.  Throughout my visits I recorded conversations and ambient sound.  The aim was to create an overall portrait of the group as a sound picture (rather than a documentary).  In addition, I explored methods of incorporating the drawings as part of my final artwork.

The various activities I drew and recorded during my residency included art, drumming, dominoes, mealtimes and the exercise class.  The BEMSCA members welcomed me into their group and we had some interesting conversations.

Fairfield House is where Haile Selassie lived while he was in exile from Ethiopia and there is a an active group of local Rastafarians.  The Townswomen’s Guild also use the day centre one day a week for art, sewing and bridge.  While the Ethnic elders were my primary focus, I also followed the activities of these other groups to build a picture of the whole house.

The EVA commission allowed me to address concerns which arose from a recent position as Artist in Residence at The Holburne Museum of Art during their major redevelopment project.  Throughout that residency I found that everyone wanted to talk to me and the conversations, along with the other sounds and smells on site, have remained in my memory as an integral part of the drawings made.  I am now developing strategies in my practice for expressing the sensory and remembered aspects of the contexts I portray through drawing.

Go here to see Karen’s website.

To return to the EVA Artist Commissions page go here.





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