Our August Featured Artist is the renowned and beloved ceramic sculptor, Karen Kennedy.
Karen's work has won many awards through the years and her unique sense of humour always shines through her pieces. She has been a full-time ceramic sculptor for about 35years, selling to galleries throughout New Zealand.
When catching up with Karen about her journey as an artist, she had the following to share.
"I lived in Glendowie and we had a muddy creek at the bottom of our section and as kids, we dug out sticky yellow clay and made things. My Mum was very encouraging and loved unfired ash trays that disintegrated.
whenever the pot plants leaked. I have always been creative. Drawing, painting, doing craft work. Became an Occupational therapist because I loved the craft work, but there was very little of that being done by
the time I graduated. I became a mother, did a night class in pottery and realized sculpture was my thing. Took a box of figurines into our local craft shop and never looked back. I have done all sorts of small courses and tutorials and read a lot of pottery books. I teach a pottery class once a year, in April at my home."
When asked about her proudest achievement, she proudly talks about the big Dragon Seat in Devonport on Chinaman's hill, just up from the supermarket. He is a ferro cement 3-seater with hand-made tiles. Her first one is another in Onehunga, on Main Street.
For any artists starting out her advice is to just be disciplined and not wait for inspiration. She recommends working out a quote to do every week whether you feel like it or not. She advises to be realistic and to be clean and tidy as a mess in not conducive to good work. Take a class in whatever you fancy as she likens that to a pressure cooker - you learn fast.
Karen's favorite subjects to portray are fantasy, dogs and birds. She likes to tell a story and her medium of choice is white clay that looks good painted with ceramic stains and a clear glaze. Her bigger pieces have traditional glazes, and she has her own studio and kiln.
She also enjoys painting rocks as a hobby. She acquires or buy smooth pebbles and paint them, using $2 shop acrylic paints. She muses: "Frogs, dogs, people, birds, unicorns, dragons, mice, cats, anything that takes my
fancy. I walk my dog, usually round Lake Panorama and hide rocks for kids to find and keep or re hide. It is quite a big thing in West Auckland, and you see whole families out rock hunting around the lake.
All the parks have rocks hidden in them somewhere. These are freebies, I never sell them. It is a nice thing for kids and the community. Some of the big rocks round the lake have my paintings on them. My own rocks that I take in and cement in place. This is because I heard a lad wailing to his mother, "Mummy, there aren't any rocks." There are ceramic button paintings glued to some of the rocks, and a big ceramic Conan the Barbarian tile by the pathway. I have plans for more ceramic pieces to sneak into parks."
As for a message she would like to share through her art - she says:"Don't wait for inspiration. Make something. Paint something. Creativity is one of the best pathways to happiness that I can think of. And if you can't sell your work, give it away. Make somebody else happy."