Visual artist Karen Rann makes sculptures, performances and installations.

Creating installations and performances relating to their locality allows me to explore new and atypical materials and working methods. All the artworks shown here were the result of commissions and residencies.

Although my work is non-traditional and sometimes challenging, most people find it accessible. Many of the projects have participatory elements and people respond well to the unusual ideas and often comment on the sensuous qualities within the work.

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National Trust for Scotland, Arran, 2013-2014

This residency was based on the unique natural history of Arran and in particular: Sorbus arranensis - a Whitebeam/Rowan cross - native to the island.
Please see Nature of Change blog | video

Intrigued by the changing leaf shape that is emerging as these trees evolve; my response has been to similarly transform leaves within a stand of Rhododendron magnificum on the NTS estate. I have cut some leaves - leaving others partially altered - thus highlighting the difference as well as showing how 'natural' the changed shape looks.

The making process has involved using only what is there - I have also taken nothing away - the artwork/intervention will change over a number of years as the cut leaves slowly ‘grow out’ and fall.

I hope my subtle interventions are an invitation to see our environment afresh.
As part of the residency I invited writer Sara Maitland to join me, she has written a short site-responsive story we hope to have published soon. Visitors are invited to share their photos with us through a flickr site

[K]not Net [K]not Net
[K]not Net [K]not Net


Gairloch Heritage Museum, Scotland, 2013

During this residency I researched the impact of the scale change from domestic to industrial nets in the ‘local’ fishing industry. Please see blog: Pictish Fish.

A vision lodged in my head of a net so large and deep, strong and fine, that with one drag through water, it catches everything in its path. My response was to create a net that cannot catch, more void than material, and within it the negative space symbolic of the missing fish.

It is made entirely from rope found washed up on local beaches, their colours and shapes exquisite, but with every tide more and they neither degrade nor disappear without our intervention.

The museum is in the process of fundraising to move to a new location, the plan is to install [K]not Net in the new building (it is too large for the present one).

left luggage left luggage left luggage
left luggage left luggage left luggage
left luggage left luggage left luggage


Oldenburg, Germany, 2011

A six week artist residency responding to the Station Quarter of Oldenburg.

The city was formerly the capital of the region and has pretensions to match, whereas the Station Quarter is an incoherent mix of Russian disco, insurance company headquarters, brothels and artists' studios.

The resulting installation/performance consisted of 30 metres of net curtain being 'taken for a walk'. The idea was to use a material belonging to the rest of the city on a tour of historically important sites that the city has come to ignore: the river, a water tower, the railway, and - as final destination - the original 'central station' which now resides within a huge expanse of wasteland.

Images courtesy of Iris Jousma & Thomas Kühn

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temp con temp con temp con


Highgreen, Northumberland, 2010

For Visual Arts in Rural Communities 10th Birthday Celebrations, Karen collaborated with artist Helen Goodwin on a process based work in a field visible from Highgreen Manor.

Using materials found in that moorland landscape: sheep’s fleece and baling plastic, the artists worked in a site-responsive way, the process of moving through the landscape and mark-making with the materials taking priority over the creation of a finished product. The process was documented daily and the resulting photos displayed in the manor.

See more at Visual Arts in Rural Communities »

The Littoral Zone (link to larger picture)The Littoral Zone (link to larger picture)


Flow, Donkleywood, Northumberland, 2007

Focussing on the microbiology of a pond, this collection of artworks formed part of the Exhibition: Flow, 4 ponds, 4 artists.

'The Littoral Zone' describes the area between shore and deep water where sunlight has access to the water bed and generates the greatest abundance and variety of life forms.

Water samples from the pond were analysed by students from Newcastle University. Using magnified images of micro-organisms from the samples, the artworks which constitute the Littoral Zone give visibility to elements of this ‘life soup’.

Inroads (link to larger picture)


Meadow Gallery, Ludlow, 2003

Entering this installation, the visitor steps into a hugely magnified depiction of an event occurring all around them in the meadow. The forms seen hovering above the grasses represent the dispersion of cells on the growing tip of a plant.

The installation was created by mounting polyethylene foam sheet on steel rods which allowed the cell shapes to move and sway with the meadow grasses.

Part of the exhibition Borderlines at Meadow Arts »

Salt (link to larger picture)


The Salt Museum, Cheshire, 2000-2002

Created to float on a brine pool, this installation utilised materials chosen for their links to the salt industry. The structure was inspired by salt crystals which form on the surface tension of brackish water if the salt concentration is high enough.

Fine detail was worked into the upper layers of the installation by a process of drawing with salt onto PVC; these drawings were created by workshop participants. All 144 designs were incorporated into the installation. This was a Year of the Artist funded residency.

le Strange's Dream (link to larger picture)


The Green, Promenade & Beach, Hunstanton, 1998

This was inspired by the bright bold designs of the wind surfers' sails and kites around the resort; these fabrics withstand sun and rain well, so similar materials were used. Sun-umbrella frames became the mannequins for a series of 30 'sculptures'. Nine of the sculptures were designed and partially made by local school children.

The project was commissioned by the Borough Council of King's Lynn and W. Norfolk in partnership with Commissions East and Capital Challenge

Ruminants (link to larger picture)


A field, Wysing Arts, Cambridgeshire, 1997

The idea stemmed from walking ancient turf mazes in Lincolnshire combined with a love of spirals and helixes. The lie of the land, its history as a dairy farm and the more prosaic structure of a cow's stomach all helped to determine the shape.

Nothing was added to or removed from the field; the installation was created by cutting grass, and cutting and turning turf.

The work was commissioned by Wysing Arts as part of the show 'Seven Go Specific'.

Draw In, Draw Out (link to larger picture)


Ann Art Festival, Transylvania, Romania, 1997

The festival was sited in the crater of an extinct volcano. In the centre was a circular lake, above, a circle of sky framed by pines along the crater rim.

The performance took place beside the lake and involved slowly revolving within a seven metre span of heavy yellow canvas - worn as a skirt - so drawing the circle inwards and leaving the audience delineating the original 'low tide' line.

Deep Water (link to larger picture)


Dunaújváros Spring Festival, Hungary, 1994

The performance site was the side of a ten storey housing block in a town originally called Stalin Town, which was built in the fifties to house the workers for a new steel mill.

This 'vertical dance' - executed by Ernst Süss - was about giving wings to disused and unloved buildings.

A sister piece was created for the side of a disused Hotel in Budapest. The scaffolding netting used symbolises that a building is about to be transformed, to be 'made better'.