Karen Woods

I am a mixed media artist specialising in textiles, I don't really like to label myself because I feel with a label people may see my art in a certain way and that, in itself, can be too restricting. The main focus of my work is Mixed Media and Textiles, which allow me to create imagery that is both aesthetically appealing and emotionally poignant. All my work evolves from narrative and emotional beginnings; representations of a moment, a touch embraced by the thread, fashioned in colour. Ever since I was a child, I was driven by the desire to deconstruct and recreate using any interesting materials I could get my hands on; I got into big trouble for making mermaid grottos from Mum's expensive jewellery and never really looked back... I have 15 years' experience as a crafts tutor. As well as taking time for my own work, I have run textile, mixed-media and sculpture workshops for a variety of young peoples' groups, schools and community mental health centres. Supplementing healthcare with arts activities is now accepted within the mainstream medical community but it hasn't always been so. I have been working in arts for health for 15 years and, during that time, have championed creativity as a vehicle for putting patients at the heart of the healing process. Often the work done by arts workers in hospitals, schools and centres remains hidden except for specialist periodicals. Art can be used to cross borders, boost confidence and initiate learning. At last this is being recognised and organisations like Creative Partnerships initiate arts workers into schools to encourage flexibility and new ways of working. Arts workers have to become very good at reading body language, noticing when to initiate and when to remain silent, how to motivate, encourage and relax participants. Although I hate to label myself or my work, I work predominantly in textiles and mixed media, as I have found them to be very flexible mediums. Textiles are easy to use in hospital environments, allowing the participants to develop work at their own pace, becoming engrossed in the process. Older participants may remember more traditional ways of working and I encourage shared skills, as I believe that the contact and interaction is very cathartic. read full statement

Location Bury St Edmunds, East