Approved: 19.01.2009

Karen Babayan

Artist, Curator, Maker, Writer

Approved: 19.01.2009

Artist Statement

I am a storytellor of personal and public histories through images created and re-interpreted and words, written and spoken.  Exploring the role of nostalgia, mythmaking and archetypes, my research is drawn from fiction, film, creative writing, popular culture, the general media, anthropology and other artists. History, identity and truth are explored through fiction writing, image-making, performance and documentation.

Packing', is a performance piece about exile; 'Blood Oranges Dipped in Salt', a book of fictionalised family stories explores diasporan Armenian identity from the perspective of my own family through handed down stories and personal experience.  A rich archive of family photographs is incorporated into new work through projection and a variety of print media. The work evidences the experience of displacement by revisiting the history that has shaped my family in its physical and psychological migration over time and space.  My latest project 'Swallows and Armenians' explores the real Armenian family behind Arthur Ransome’s fictional ‘Swallows' and reveals their contribution to the rich cultural landscape of the Lake District.  

Born in Tehran, Iran in 1962, of Armenian-British parentage, I came to the UK in 1978 at the age of 16.

'Blood Oranges Dipped in Salt', is published by the Wild Pansy Press, University of Leeds

CV & Education

Art Education            

PhD: Verchatsav! An auto-ethnographic exploration of Armenian–Iranian identity through contemporary art practice. Leeds Beckett University, School of Contemporary Art and Graphic Design  2009-15

M.A. Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University 1988-90

B.A.(Hons.) Graphic Design, Leeds Polytechnic 1982-85

Pre-B.A. Leeds College of Art 1981-82  

Selected solo exhibitions

2014  Pages: archive and office, stationary and document, The Tetley, Leeds

2010  Space, Place & Identity, conference exhibition, Leeds Metropolitan University, Broadcasting Place

2002  Objects of Desire, The Hutchinson Art Gallery, Bishop Auckland

1997  The Elizabethan Gallery, Wakefield; Kookoo, Hardware Gallery, London

1996  Lavashak and Other Stories: Huddersfield Art Gallery

1995  Achkov Chudank (Touch Wood), Yervand Kochar Museum & Art Gallery, Yerevan, Armenia; Flight of Fancy Bury Art Gallery & Museum

1994  Flight of Fancy Peterborough City Art Gallery & Lanchester Gallery, Coventry University; Prints; Leeds City Art Gallery

1993  The Bearded Armenian Woman Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston

1992  Stuffed, Fried Fingers Samuel Zacks Gallery, Toronto, Canada; Smallheath Middle School for Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

1991 The City Gallery, Leicester; The Phoenix Arts Centre, Leicester

1990  The Collapsed Blue Canopy of Heaven The University Gallery, Leeds; The Pavilion Art Centre & The Yorkshire Art Circus  

Selected group exhibitions

2014  C-Art Cumbria, Battlebarrow House, Appleby

2013  Salon Mashup, Shoreditch Town Hall, London

2011  Home from Home, PAGES, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds

2010  Treasured Objects, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London

2009  Armenian Journey, York Minster

2007  YoMu (York/Münster Exchange), Guildhall, York

2006 Layered Lives, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London 

2003  Artsparkle, an exhibition of multiples, Leeds Corn Exchange,

2000  20th Century Religious Art, Wakefield Art Gallery

1999  Bookways, the British Version, The Museum of Foreign Art, Riga, Latvia & Museum of Art, Valmeri, Latvia

1998  Baggage, Four Armenian Artists, Hellenic Centre, London

1997 The Contemporary Print Fair, Catalyst Arts, Belfast

1996  10 - Artists from Leeds, Oviedo, Spain

1994  Contemporary Relief one, Hardware Gallery, London

1993  The Bookmaker III, The Centre for the Book, Birmingham

1992  The Bookmaker II, The Elizabethan Gallery, Wakefield

1991   Nature of the Beast, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham