Karen Wykerd

Karen Wykerd

The central theme of my work is the urban landscape. Having moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg, has been instrumental in influencing my work. This city has continued to captivate me with its abundance of beautiful historical buildings, numerous parks, promenades and harbour, it is truly a city for the people.

One of my main motivations as an artist is the pursuit of light- how it defines a scene and changes our experience of it at any one time. How a scene can be entirely different in the morning and then again in the evening. I love this quote by the artist John Constable. “The sky is the source of light in nature and it governs everything” In my work I aim to highlight the beauty of the daily commute. These unassuming everyday scenes that become common place due to routine are transformed and elevated through use of colour, light and layers of thin washes. Suddenly the viewer is confronted with something dreamlike and worthy of being documented. Not only do I take a closer look at roads most travelled, but also zoom out and paint large expanses of sky and the city from afar. I view the city as a stage on which daily acts, significant or insignificant are played out.

In the series titled “Urban Idyll” I have taken time out from the bustle of the streets to explore the cities quiet spaces,monuments and gardens, celebrating its rich history and the enclaves of verdant oases where one can reflect and commune with nature. In these works I have highlighted the static,lifeless, manmade statues of bronze or stone set in their contradictory surrounds, an environment, full of life,movement and change.

In a more recent series, “EXHALE”  I have departed from myusual subject matter, leaving the busy streets of the city behind to explore the abundance of nature around Cape Town, capturing calm spaces where one can take a moment to exhale and let out the stresses of our daily lives.

Process is an important part of my work, with elements of chance at play, acknowledging the necessity of exploring the unfamiliar in order to gain insight. Making use of translucent washes of colour around figures swimming, strolling, floating to create scenes of immersion in nature. The dreamily indistinct backgrounds and tranquil colour palette combine to give us moments of rest and reflection where we can be reacquainted with nature, and our selves.

I also enjoy mixed media working in acrylic and onto different surfaces, namely wood, glass. I have recently started embroidering which I’m finding extremely therapeutic and rewarding as this also allows me to create out of the studio.


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