I graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1993 with a BA (hon) in Glass. After graduating I gained valuable experience working in a commercial glass factory in Cambridge. A highly pressured environment, it was hard work providing daily hot glass making demonstrations to the general public, however it provided limited creative opportunities and I left to return to Edinburgh. After several years working as an illustrator, I returned to eca graduating in 2002 with a Master of design in Glass. Since then I have continued to work as an artist and a glassmaker, exhibiting in Britain and abroad. Much of my work has been the result of Artist Residencies which can be intense and stimulating and previous fellowships include Wheaton Arts at the Creative Glass Center of America 2003, the Gulbenkian kiln forming residency at North Lands Creative Glass, Caithness 2006 and Edinburgh College of Art Glass department (pt) 2004-2009.
Q.How did you decide to become a maker?
As a child drawing and making models kept me out of mischief! It has been a natural progression and I can’t imagine doing anything else?
Q. What made you choose the materials that you work with?
I had applied to Edinburgh College of Art to study Illustration and whilst there was introduced to the Glass department. It was amazing, I was so excited by the work I saw and immediately selected it as my ‘second subject’. After the first workshop I was totally inspired and knew that this was something I wanted to learn full time and applied to swap departments. That excitement hasn’t left; I am fascinated by process and materials and find glass an ideal material to exploit as it has so many chameleon qualities. Its unpredictability also means your constantly learning and discovering new things.
Q. If you didn’t work in glass what other medium would take your interest?
Wood, stone, metal my long term plans are to incorporate more of these materials into my work.
Q. What are you currently working on?
I am currently exploring metal casting looking at patination and old tin toys and I am continuing my explorations into pate de verre (glass paste).
Q. Do you have a studio base or a home base?
I model make at home and hire workshop/studio space as and when needed.
Kinder transport: Cast figures glass; wood; metal
Q. Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?I think that Britain has a wealth of talent within the crafts be that glass, ceramics, jewellery, weaving etc but what I find really disappointing is the current attitude towards these disciplines at College, University level. Often cited as lack of funds or applicants, we are witnessing time and again the closure of glass and ceramic departments throughout the UK. With Art colleges opting for a more generic art degree and the freedom to express ideas in any medium… (all fine) the technician will see to the rest?! But what they don’t seem to appreciate is that they are taking away the opportunity to learn valuable skills. The process of making your own work can only have a positive impact on your creativity. If these options aren’t available I think we are really starving future creative industries.I hope that councils, schools and colleges will see the light and start reinvesting in these unique disciplines.
Q. How do you sell your work?
Through my website http://www.karenakester.com/ exhibitions and more recently through the Bullseye Gallery http://www.bullseyegallery.com/
Q. What is your working style?
My methods of working are repetitive, labour intensive and meditative. Constantly evolving and changing through the making process the pieces often develop their own narratives, which can be unpredictable and exciting.
Only 2 can play: Cast figures glass; wood; metal
Q. 3 words of advice for an aspiring Craft artist/maker...
Q. What inspires your work?
I am a bit of a hoarder, collecting old photographs, toys, fabrics, prints anything that triggers an emotion. In the last few years I have worked on a series of group sculptures where I try to encapsulate a specific moment in time-usually springing from a childhood memory.
Q. Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?
It is really difficult to narrow this down to a short list, as there are a lot of people I really admire: Louise Bourgeois; Caravaggio; Michelangelo; Brancusi;
Nicola Hicks; Hussein Chalayan; Vivienne Westwood. (My list could go on and on!)
Q. What do you do to relax?
Watch old movies and read.
Smock dress: Glass