Approved: 19.07.2016

Karen Heald

Artist, Consultant, Film-maker, Lecturer / academic, Researcher

Approved: 19.07.2016

As a visual artist, filmmaker and researcher I am exploring the concepts of time, site and creativity from a painterly perspective. Through a variety of media primarily video, installation and photography, I have evolved my own poetic visual language that engages with the differences and similarities between painting and film, creating a language of 'painterly reverie' that communicates difficult social issues with oblique, visual stanzas. 

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  • Location: Wrexham, Wales


As a visual artist, filmmaker and researcher I am exploring the concepts of time, site and creativity from a painterly perspective. Through a variety of media primarily video, installation and photography, I have evolved my own poetic visual language that engages with the differences and similarities between painting and film, creating a language of 'painterly reverie' that communicates difficult social issues with oblique, visual stanzas. 

My artwork has evolved out of working site-specifically and on international residences. I have a collaborative ethos within the production of much of my work. Engaging with fellow visual artists including painters and applied artists I have also collaborated with sound artists and dancers. A particular significant and successful collaboration for over ten years has been with glass artist and educator Chris Bird-Jones. Collectively we are known as Bird-Jones & Heald (

The concept of 'in-between-ness' in my practiced-based PhD (2014) explored time, creativity and its relationship to video, site-specificity, and the philosophical complexities of arts and science collaborations. 

As a progression from undertaking artist-in-residency placements, collaborations have emerged with other creative practitioners, scientists of different professions and psychiatric patients. This research as collaborative practice is set within the context of contemporary art, arts and science research, feminist action, participation and site-responsive approaches (

A complex collaborative methodology has been established through the performative use of time-based media whilst engaging with the psychoanalyst, linguist and philosopher, Julia Kristeva's concept of the semiotic chora. My working methodology draws on this notion as a preverbal and creative space that relates to rhythms, colours and trace. Using audio-visual technologies, the research expands on Kristeva's chora in relation to time and melancholia and also, as a way to further address these vulnerable states, identifies a number of new concepts: 'transitory strata', the 'unconscious thetic' and 'in-between-ness'.

My outcomes are manifested as 'dream films' echoing the ephemeral and transitional spaces of the mind; the imaginary; reverie and states between wakefulness and sleep; the unconscious and layers of consciousness such as that of the creative or the depressive and psychotic who travels between several time zones simultaneously. Through painterly, poetic non-linear video narratives, these 'in-between' spaces are played out. The films aspire to be beautifully eloquent and texturally emotive while also intentionally ambivalent and often deliberately perturbing. As such the 'unconscious thetic' latently reveals itself to an enquiring viewer at the threshold of meaning (

CV & Education

Karen Heald: Curriculum Vitae   

Current Positions

Lecturer, MA Fine Art programme (Creative Studies and Media, Bangor University, 2014 - present).

Honorary Research Fellow (Social Sciences, Bangor University, 2012 -  2018).

Artist / Researcher (2004 – present).


Practice-based PhD, Leeds Metropolitan University, 2014.

MA (Merit) Contemporary Fine Art Practice, Leeds Metropolitan University, 2004.

 BA (Hons) First Class, Visual Arts, University of Salford, 2002.

 Previous University Employment / Gallery Education Roles

 Lecturer (P/T) MA Fine Art, Lifelong Learning, Bangor University 2014 - 2015.

Sessional Lecturer BA Fine Art, Creative Industries, Media and Performance, Glyndwr University, 2014.

Lecturer (P/T) MA, Creative Education, University of Salford, 2011-2012.

Research Assistant (P/T) Contemporary Fine Art & Critical Theory Group, University of Salford, 2009-2012.

Sessional Lecturer MA Fine and Applied Arts, Glyndwr University, Wrexham, 2007-2008.

Visiting Lecturer MA Contemporary Fine Art, University of Salford, 2006.

Visiting Lecturer BA Visual Arts and MA Contemporary Fine Arts, University of Salford, 2004.

Research Assistant (P/T) School of Art & Design, University of Salford, 2002-2009.

Gallery Education Roles

Lead Artist / Artist Mentor in collaboration with MOSTYN / CLYCH / Penrhos School, 2015.

Artist / filmmaker collaboration with Alana Tyson & Ruthin Craft Centre, 2015.

Lead Artist / Artist Mentor, Engage Cymru / Oriel Mostyn / Hard to Reach Young People, 2013-2014.

Lead Artist / Artist Mentor, Engage Cymru / Oriel Wrecsam / Wrexham Youth Offenders Team, 2013.

Research Projects

In-between-ness: using art to capture changes to the self during antidepressant treatment Artist in Residence/Honorary Researcher at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCU HB). Funded R&D project with Dr S. Liggett, Dr R. Tranter and Professor Rob Poole, 2011-2014.

Visualising the Invisible, Artist in Residence / Researcher, Ablett Psychiatric Unit, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. Funded by the Arts Council of Wales, Safle & NHS, 2009-2010.

Artist Residencies

Mapio Madoc Creadigol, underwater filming at Plas Madoc Leisure Centre / Oriel Wrecsam, with Angela Davies, Ant Dickinson & Francesca Simmons, 2014.

Schulze commissioned video installation, Ellesmere College, 2013.

Drift Art Residency comprising staged sleep ‘performances’ University of Charleroi, Sleep Research Unit, Belgium, with Dr Myriam Kerkhofs, 2004.

Tumultuous Whisper, Artist Residency / Solo exhibition, Glass Box Gallery, University of Salford, 2003.

Intangible Fluidity Artist Residency, Cadw Welsh Historical Monuments, Wales, 2002.

The Bird Cage Artist Residency, ArToll, Bedburg-Hau, Germany, 2002.

Untitled (Pescia) Artist Residency, Pescia, Italy, 2001.

Invited expositions

Slippage: The Unstable Nature of Difference Arts Council England (ACE) funded group exhibition, Contemporary Art Space, Chester University, with Susan Liggett, 2015.

Golau (light) site-responsive exhibition, Chirk Castle, Chirk, Wales, with Angela Davies, Ant Dickinson, Francesca Simmons, Angelina Kornecka & Paula Budd, 2014.

Videoformes film screening and live performance event, Trinty Church, Salford live streamed to Maison du Peuple, Clermont-Ferrand, France, with Daisy Farris, Susan Liggett, 2012.

Song Books live dance performance and recorded multi-screened film projections, The Riley Theatre, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds, with Daisy Farris, 2011.

Venice. The Vending Machine: An Installation dual sited installation, Serra dei Giardini and Contemporary Art Galleria Perela, Venice, Bird-Jones & Heald, Susan Liggett, 2011.

Film to Change Series film White screened, Albert Room, Leeds Town Hall, with Susan Liggett, 2010.

She dreamed of… Leeds International Film Festival, with Susan Liggett, 2010.

Odoo/Current exhibition, Genghis Gallery, Mongolia, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2007.

Everything will be Fine exhibition, Halle für Kunst, Lueneburg, Germany, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2007.

9th Biennial International Women’s Glass Network group exhibition, GIG Gallery, Sydney, Australia showing The Box an experimental film/installation, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2006.

International Festival of Glass 2006 exhibited site-specific video installation titled Breath at The Red House Glass Cone, Stourbridge, Bird-Jones & Heald with Simon Eccles, 2006.

Selected Exhibitions

Lumiere Visible film screenings and video sculpture at La Grange aux Verrie`res, Saint-Hilaire en Lignières, France, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2016.

Welsh Women. Film the […] space, Mission Gallery, Swansea. Bird-Jones & Heald, 2015

Weaving Narratives film screening of Lateral Flight, St Asaph Cathedral, Wales, with Angela Davies & Angelina Kornecka, 2015.

the egg, the womb, the head and the moon, video installation, Artsmill, Hebden Bridge, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2014.

Moreton Hall Centenary Art Exhibition film screening, Fine Art Society, Bond Street, London, with Susan Liggett, 2013.

In-between-ness exhibition of video installations, video stills and paintings, Gallery Sycharth, Glyndwr University, Wrexham, with Susan Liggett, 2013.

Maker in Focus, video installation, Mission Gallery, Swansea, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2013.

Be Our Guest site-specific response, multi-media installation at Oriel Davies Gallery and The Gro Guest House, Newtown, Wales, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2013.

blinc film projection, blinc Digital Arts Festival, Conwy, with Daisy Farris, 2012.

Bow Arts Open Show 2012, video installation selected by Bob and Roberta Smith, Emilie Faure and Skye Sherwin. Bermondsey Project Space, London, with Elizia Volkmann, 2012.

Adain Avion Film screening, LOCWS International, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2012.

Hamburg Vending group exhibition, Kunst Altonale, Hamburg, Germany, Bird-Jones & Heald, Susan Liggett, Elizia Volkmann, 2012.

Quiet Acts of Domestic Violence A unique series of 7 live art acts over 7 weekends, 58 Shelmerdine Close, Bow Arts Trust, London, with Eliza Volkmann, 2010.

Visualising the Invisible, exhibition, Durber Gallery/Caitrin Finch Centre, Glyndwr University, Wrexham, with Susan Liggett, 2010.

The Dream Space Touring exhibition of filmed performances, IAMAS, Nagoya University, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan, with Akamatsu, T. Kawamura Y. & Kearney, R. 2007.   

Embryonic Touring exhibition in Spain, Museo Municipal de Arte de Alcorcón-MAVA Madrid & Museum University of Alicante-MUA, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2006-2007.

Leftfield Group exhibition, The Cube, Manchester, 2006.

Projections, video installation, Stroud House Gallery, with Elizia Volkmann, 2005.

Testbed 3 video and sound installations, Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery, 2005.

008 Exhibition of films at Timber Wharf, Manchester, 2004.

Testbed Multiscreened video projections, Leeds Metropolitan Gallery, Leeds, 2003.

North West Filmmakers Films screened, Manchester Reel North, Granada TV, 2003.

Exposures Experimental films showing at the Cornerhouse, Manchester, 2002.

Raindance Untitled, Raindance International Film Festival, London, 2002.

Guerilla Films 48 Hour Digital Guerilla Film Challenge, The Curzon, London, 2002.

Aconvention Film screening, conference, Adephi Hotel, Liverpool Biennial, 2002.

Digital Art Festival, Collect Gallery, Liverpool Biennial, 2002.

Exposures Experimental video, Cornerhouse, Manchester, 2001.

Selected Exhibition Catalogues

Slippage: The Unstable Nature of Difference Contemporary Art Space Chester (CASC), University of Chester, with Susan Liggett, 2015.

Woman Fine Art Society, Bond Street, London, with Susan Liggett, 2013.

Hamburg Vending Machine, Kunst Altonale, Germany, with Susan Liggett, 2012.

Venice. The Vending Machine: An Installation, with Susan Liggett, 2011.

Odoo/Current, Genghis Gallery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2007.

Everything will be Fine, Luneburg University, Germany, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2007.

Vidro Contemporaneo, Lugo - Galicia, Spain, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2007.

IV Bienal Internacional de Artes Plasticas 2006 Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo en Vidrio de Alcorcón-MAVA Madrid, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2006.

Books / Book chapters

Heald, K. & Garton, M. (2014) Suspended Narratives. Salford, University of Salford.

Heald, K. (2014) ‘Dream films’, Women’s Time and Sleep. In: Front, S. & Bemben, A. eds. Hours like Bright Sweets in a Jar - Time and Temporality in Literature and Culture. Cambridge, Cambridge Scholars.

Heald, K., & Liggett, S. (2014) Time and the chora: ‘Transitory strata’ and ‘in-between-ness’ within ‘dream films’. In:Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, B. ed. Time & Temporality in Language and Human Experience. Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, pp.401-409.

Selected Conference Presentations / Papers  

Liggett, S., Heald, K., Earnshaw, R. A., Thompson, E. & Excell, P. S. (2015) Collaborative Research in Art, Design and New Media – Challenges and Opportunities.

Earnshaw. R.A., Liggett, S., Cunningham, S., Heald, K., Thompson, E. & Excell, P.S. Models for Research in Art, Design, and the Creative Industries.

Heald, K. & Liggett, S. (2014) In-between-ness: Creativity, Film and Wellbeing. AXISweb symposium, MOSTYN, Llandudno, UK, 26th June 2014.

Heald, K. (2014) Fine Art: Collaboration and Film. In: Proceedings of Creative Futures, March 3-6, 2014, Wrexham, UK. Wrexham, Glyndwr University.

Heald, K., Liggett, S., Tranter, R. & Poole, R (2012) In-between-ness: Using art to capture changes to the self during antidepressant treatment. In: Proceedings of The European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA) 12th Biennial Conference: Art, Science and Society: Art Questions, Art Knows, Art Matters, November 8-10, 2012, Vienna, Austria. Vienna, University of Applied Arts (Die Angewandte).

Heald, K., Liggett, S., Poole, R., & Tranter, R. Visualising the Invisible: Arts and Science Collaboration. In: Proceedings of the Claiming Creativity: Art Education in Cultural Transition April 21 – 24, 2010, Chicago, USA.  Chicago, Columbia College.

Heald, K., Haywood, P. & Liggett, S. (2009) Horizons and Timelines. In: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the European Sociological Association: European Society or European Societies? September 2-5, 2009, Lisbon Portugal. Lisbon, University of Lisbon.

Heald, K. & Hislop, J. (2007) Intimate Space: Sleep, Art and Sociology. In: Kirchberg, V. et al. eds. Proceedings of the Conference of the European Sociological Association Research Network for the Sociology of the Arts: New Frontiers in Arts Sociology: Creativity, Support and Sustainability, March 28 – April 1, 2007, Lüneburg and Hamburg Germany. Lüneburg, University of Lüneburg, p.46.

Peer Reviewer

Earnshaw, R. (2016), Research and Development in Art, Design and Creativity. Switzerland, Springer International Publishers.

Metoudi, A. (2016) The Dovetail Journal: Phenomenology, Literature, Creative Arts and Media. Issue 2 Autumn 2016. Bangor, Dovetail: ILCAM (based at Bangor University).


DASH, Bursary to attend Beyond the Frame Symposium, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, 2016.

The Art Fund, Bursary to attend the ICA Artists’ Film Biennial, London, 2016.

Arts Council Wales (ACW) Welsh Women Project, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2014.

Wales Arts International (WAI) to participate in the Women’s International Glass Workshop (WISGW), touring France, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2014.

University of Bangor to stage an exhibition of artwork from the In-between-ness project, with Dr Richard Tranter, 2012.

North Wales Research Committee, R&D award to conduct a pilot scheme - In-between-ness: Using art to capture changes to the self during antidepressant treatment. Lead applicant Karen Heald, Co-applicants Dr S. Liggett, Dr R. Tranter & Professor Rob Poole.

Arts Council of Wales & Safle, R&D award to collaborate with Dr Richard Tranter to develop the In-between-ness project, 2010.

Stiwdio Safle Award received from Safle and the Arts Council Wales for a nine-month Artist Residency at Glan Clwyd Hospital, Bodelwyddan, Wales, 2009-2010.

Arts & Humanities Research Council award University of Salford. Research team Haywood. P., Ingleson, S., Heald, K. & Percival, B. 2009-2012.

Wales Arts International (WAI) received for The Dream Space, Japan, 2007.