Karen Preston

Karen Preston (Australia)

Title: We reap what we sew.
Medium: Mixed media
Size: 21 x 29cm
Price: AU$200

This piece explores various ways triumph and loss are intertwined. The loss of a glove ruins a pair, but one glove can still represent victory and form the centre of an artwork. Embroidery cottons inherited from my mother were used to create a garden which celebrates her love of needlework and gardening, and she lives on through them. I chose women’s colours; purple, green and white, to represent the way sacrifice and solidarity have contributed to women being able to flourish personally and publicly. The plastic flowers and plastic baby doll are a caution that despite plastic as a material enhancing so many aspects of our lives, our careless treatment of it as a waste product has caused the contamination of our land and water, it is now integrating with the environment and our biology; not such a triumphant outcome for nature.

I love to play with colours, shapes and textures, and materials, like paint, string, cloth, twigs and waste plastic, to create images and objects that have a sense of purpose and resolution. It is particularly rewarding to take something that has been discarded because it is worn out or broken or torn, and work with it so that it can be seen and valued differently. Making art also offers a way to explore and express sensations, memories and ideas that occur during the course of everyday life. While most of my artwork is abstract, occasionally I become immersed in figurative projects, such as making paintings of relatives from box brownie photographs; during the pandemic lockdowns I started painting flowers. Sometimes my work is political as well as aesthetic. For the past four years I have been working on a waste plastic project, collecting our household plastic waste and using it to make sculptures that reflect on the effect waste plastic is having on nature and the environment.