Karen forms one third of collaborative group Living Space Arts along with Carrie Richards and Mark Wydler. The group was founded in 1998 and was borne through a shared desire to produce vivid and inspired public art pieces that relate to their audience on multiple levels, through strong design and colour, different layers of meaning and representation, and the use of interesting, varied and unexpected materials. LSA’s vision is to create striking and meaningful art works that, fully integrated with the architecture they inhabit, and alongside the creation of gardens, revitalise our public spaces.
‘Art will always contain a remedy’ (McNiff 1997)
Karen Francesca is an environmental artist whose work blurs the boundaries between social action and art/ garden making. Karen achieved a 1st Class degree in Fine Art from Leeds University, a Masters in Art Psychotherapy from Goldsmiths University and has been involved in public, social and therapeutic art projects for two decades.
Her most recent residency is with Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World at Exeter University and her current Art Psychotherapy work is in acute care in a hospital in London, to create a garden, and in community settings. Karen works with collectives such as Touchwood Trees Ltd, The Treatment Rooms and Hubbub, making artworks for public spaces including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Orleans House Gallery and Potter’s Fields Park.
Karen recognises the loss of our relationship with the land and aims to alter perception of land/ public space through access and involvement in it. Landscapes and urban spaces are shared cultural phenomena, and she promotes social experiences and interventions that reflect our common values and are a communion with a historic self.
Collective hand building of earth works/ gardens/ mosaics are very labour intensive crafts which generate communication at a physical and emotional level, the material aspects of which produce powerful symbols that can bring about group ownership and belonging, where participants become producers of their own cultural representation rather than passive spectators.
Karen on Human Nature
My work seeks to point to the physical reality of our lives; to create both a sense of wonder and urgency about our current situation on earth. I’m an artist, art psychotherapist and educator, underpinned by a strong link to the natural world, aiming to address issues around land and resources and the social implications of environmental degradation. I’m engaged in permaculture principals and working towards self sufficiency.
I’m interested in exploring our relationship to the natural world and the legitimacy of an emotional response to the earth. I’ve moved from direct action (counter activity) to anti- consumption, pro-active processes, such as art and garden creation, forestry and social intervention through art psychotherapy- as a form of micro politics.
Karen uses the earth and soil as a ground for many of her projects, it is the basis to our entire lives and she aims to foster the idea that soil is synonymous with food. ‘The monuments we make act as an imprint, a legacy’.