Selected by Charlie Arnold
I first met Karen Whiterod at Darlington railway station in 2001. She had come up from Norwich at my request, to present a workshop as part of the ExtraOrdinary recycled jewellery exhibition (commissioned by Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, Co.Durham, 2001) that I was touring at the time. Earlier in the year I had been impressed by Karen's exquisite, translucent, nylon jewellery at Chelsea Crafts fair and was fascinated and delighted by the delicate, expanding, natural forms that she creates by linking multiples of single, twisted, synthetic units that mimic an atomic structure.
Since then Whiterod has consciously rejected the use of commercial materials. In an effort to reduce her carbon footprint she now specializes in large-scale sculptural pieces that capitalize on the varied and translucent qualities of recycled plastics. She still uses her trademark technique of joining multiples of identical units but by clever use of low energy LEDs and optic fibres has begun to create beautiful, internally lit environments, such as LumenEssence (Salthouse Church, 2008). This suggests throngs of suspended, luminous, underwater organisms.
After a seventeen year long journey that has taken her from commercial jeweller to conceptual artist, Karen Whiterod's next ambition is to create an outdoor piece robust enough to withstand the elements.
Charlie Arnold is an independent artist curator who since 2000 has created several touring exhibition projects in NE England highlighting interdisciplinary work by contemporary designer-makers and artists.
More information on Karen Whiterod
Charlie Arnold's curator profile
Chelsea Crafts fair