Visual artist Karen Rann makes sculptures, performances and installations.

Most of the selected projects here are a result of residencies; however, also included are solo exhibitions in Britain and - with support from the British Council - in Budapest, Hungary.

Making artworks to sell (rather than as commissions) is a relatively new departure. Please use the contact form if you are interested in either publication or prints from the Great Lines Project or sculptures from the Spirit Level & Spirality series.

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The Great Lines The Great Lines The Great Lines
The Great Lines The Great Lines The Great Lines
The Great Lines The Great Lines The Great Lines


The Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle, 2016
GeoConnect, ExCel, London, 2016

Since first hearing of Newcastle born Charles Hutton in 2014, I have been chasing the history of the invention of contour lines.

The project has involved research (in England, Scotland & the Netherlands), writing (a blog & publication), speaking (GeoConnect, London) and making:

  • A 4ft x 4ft ‘replica’ of Charles Hutton’s (missing) first contour map
  • Two models based on the scale of the missing map
  • How to Draw a Mountain, Water according to Cruquius & Altitude drawing series

Some of the drawing series will be available as limited edition prints (please use contact page to enquire for details or to order copies of the publication).

The project was funded by Arts Council England (ACE) & Visual Art in Rural Communities (VARC).

The Great Lines blog...

Dewey Remix Dewey Remix
Dewey Remix Dewey Remix


Artspace Gallery, Cambridge Artworks, 2016

Seven artists with diverse backgrounds came together to take up a curatorial challenge and relocate their site-specific works within the white cube of the ArtSpace Gallery.

Dewey Remix was the result of re-imagining the artwork/map ‘Lost & Found’ (which was created specifically for the Library within the Anglia Ruskin University).

Spirit Level Spirit Level
Spirit Level Spirit Level


VARC in the City, Abject Gallery, Newcastle, 2015

Revisiting ideas for the Spirality series – which were created whilst artist in residence with VARC - these quick grass sketches were created specifically for this group exhibition hosted by VARC (Visual Arts in Rural Communities) in collaboration with Breeze Creatives

Utility Series Utility Series


Studio Work, 2012/13

On moving to my present studio I noticed valve, hydrant and sewer covers in the vicinity bore the names of foundries from districts nearby.

'Digging' into their provenance, they began to shed light on the history of their arrival - and the effect on our lives wiping out cholera epidemics for example.

Through these 'collages' I have begun an exploration of location through 'hidden' networks, how they connect us, though over the course of the last century we no longer see it - nor physically carry water into our homes. Our ignorance of their provenance, routes and dispersal is unveiled only when they fail (through power-cuts or flood).

oasis oasis


Newcastle Building Society, Newcastle, 2008

Oasis is a suspended installation created specifically for the atrium of the Society’s new building: Cobalt. The ideas and form for the work were generated through discussions and making sessions with staff whilst in residence over a three month period.

On each floor of the building are vending pods for soft drinks. As the company have a strong recycling ethos it was decided to create the installation entirely from over 350 plastic bottles sourced and recycled on site.

The building overlooks lakes where birds land and flock; through watching this process the idea was born to juxtapose artificial and natural. The bottles were cut to create bird-like forms, as if a strange translucent flock were frozen in mid ascent.

Presence Presence


St. Andrew's Cathedral, Inverness, 2008

Presence was the culmination of a three month residency on the theme of 'arts and spirituality' organised by 'the other side of air'.

Created from printed origami modules (designed by school children and community groups), the installation contained over 1,300 'inner messages' written by members of Inverness Riverside Churches congregations, their friends and families and the wider community.

Thoughtful interaction with the installation was encouraged: members of the public were able to open the origami flaps and read the messages.

Dreamboat (link to larger picture)


Gateshead Visitor Centre, 2005

Most of my work is based around an exploration of space. For years I have been creating installations with defined interiors and exteriors but without doors or walls.

Many of these pieces were ‘vessel shaped’ but lacking the capacity to cup or hold anything aside from interior space.

Dream Boat is such a vessel, made from sheet PVC plastic, fishing-line and fishing weights, the form is made visible by dripping a pva/ink based mixture down the lines. I am interested in how drips - when allowed to accumulate - slowly give form (substance) to a line.

Traverser (link to larger picture)


The Bridge, Tynemouth Metro Station, 2005.

Traversing the space, surfaces of ‘heat-mirror’ - a reflective and flexible sheet PVC - were angled to catch light entering from south-facing windows. Vibrations from the movement of trains and passengers set pools of light in motion.

Using the linear/sequential quality of walkways and windows, the installation grew in stages. Lines which started as drips of a PVA/ink mix were - once dry - peeled up taking the reflective surface of the heat-mirror with them. Thus within these surfaces a negative transparent space recorded the progress of each dripped line

Plasticity (link to larger picture)


The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2003

This installation was commissioned as part of Liverpool's Capital of Culture bid and was part of a festival aimed at raising environmental awareness. Plasticity was created from hundreds of plastic bottles collected by school children.

The form was inspired by algal blooms, a phenomenon caused by algae feeding on pollution in water; the blooms - whilst beautiful looking - can grow so large that they eventually starve other life forms of oxygen.

Spirality (link to larger picture)


VARC residency; Tarset, Northumberland, 2001 - 2002
Solo show, Queen's Hall, Hexham, 2002

This residency was based in very high open moorland. The Spirality series was the result of collecting local grasses and studying algae growing in the bog pools.

The grasses were used in combination with PVC to create sculptural forms that suggest or recall cell structure, single celled protozoa, and spiral forms found in nature.

See more at Visual Arts in Rural Communities »

Inkorperate (link to larger picture)


Eislebener Str. Bochum, Germany, 2001
Group show

The dividing of surface area and space using: cuts, tears and stitches became the focus of a series of artworks made whilst living in Bochum, Germany.

All the materials used had a visible weave that appears transparent in certain lights, thus creating ‘space-grids’. The aim was to explore the dividing line between presence and absence.

Eaves Drop (link to larger picture)


Blackthorpe Barn, Suffolk, 1996

This 100 foot long, 16th Century threshing barn has a steep roof of thatch; to reflect both this and the original use of the barn the installation was created in thatching straw.

The roof proportions were used in two/thirds scale to create this 20 metre long inversion of the roof interior.

The installation was commissioned by Blackthorpe Barn and formed part of the 1996 Bury St Edmunds Festival.

Big Fast (link to larger picture)


Tûzoltó Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 1993
Solo show sponsored by British Council in Budapest

The gallery is situated in a disused factory; the installations were each created for specific areas within the gallery. Each installation utilised some form of packaging material, though devoid of content, so that the focus was on sensual surfaces.

The main hall has a partially glazed roof; the diffused natural light permeating this space was used to expose the machine-repetitive indentation on rolls of aluminium foil.

Give Me More! (link to larger picture)


Dorottya Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 1992
Solo show sponsored by the Ministry of Culture & Public Education, Hungary

The Gallery has a shop-window frontage and is located in Budapest's busiest shopping street. In 1992, bill-board hoardings were starting to appear in the city, so cut up bill-board paper was used to create the installation.

The aim was to create something enticing and wonderful that wasn't about buying, and where the joy was purely in beholding.

A Sense of Place (link to larger picture)


Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, 1986
Solo show

For this show three installations were made with definite interiors and exteriors but no walls, doors or windows. Spectators were encouraged to walk inside and touch them, thus providing a performance element for other onlookers.

In common with other pieces, this uses cheap and familiar, user-friendly, materials; this one being made from 3000 paper tissues.