Karen Wilde is a qualified sculptor based in New Zealand who has been involved in Tāmaki Makaurau’s creative arts community for many years. She currently navigates between art making and working as both a gallery and art foundry assistant. Wilde’s artwork often features themes around nature and ecology – examining the macro surfaces found along New Zealand coastlines and forests, while collecting site-specific organic materials for experimental surface treatments.

Artist CV

Karen Wilde collects raw samples for glaze experiments, along a cliff top walk from Bethells Beach (Te Henga). Surrounded by flax bushes, overlooking Auckland's wild west coast sea.
Karen Wilde collects raw samples for glaze experiments, along a cliff-top walk from Bethells Beach (Te Henga) to south of Muriwai Beach. Surrounded by native flax bush, overlooking Auckland’s wild west coast, 2022.

Material sustainability is important to my art practice. Being mindful of the resources I consume and re-inventing to reduce waste in our expanding consumerist culture. Exploring te taiao (nature) of Aotearoa is my favourite way to spark project ideas. If you can’t find me in the studio playing with mud and fire, I’ll be gathering inspiration and raw samples from natural environments.”

Karen Wilde holding her artwork: ceramic nature sphere with copper wire and blue patina
NZ artist Karen Wilde holding large Puia Volcano ceramic pottery

The introduction of a home-built Raku kiln and primitive pit firings in 2022 has allowed Karen Wilde to continue her experimental surface treatments. Developing mediums and objects through play while observing the many textures in nature, Wilde’s interest in organic chemistry in art and material sustainability produce unique and unpredictable surface results within her artwork.

Karen Wilde’s trypophobia mixed-media ceramics emerged from the ontological study of holes and their symbiotic negative and positive relationship with space. The artworks distort the figurative form and pictorial language of holes into non-objective sculptures, with underlying themes around cells, macro-organisms, fossils and organic forms, enhanced with experimental glaze or woven textile accents.

Trypo VIII Stoneware fired red clay Sculpture by Karen Wilde
Karen Wilde, 2021, “Trypo VIII”, Stoneware fired red clay and glaze, 28x20x7cm Sold.

Wilde continues to explore the ontology of holes and material sustainability within her art practice. Her current works push the boundaries of glaze alchemy and multi-layered configurations to create contemporary art objects with conceptual tensions, frequently described by viewers as simultaneously pleasant and uncomfortable to view. Founded on ecological studies of Aotearoa coastlines, flora and fauna – a hidden world of cause and effect emerges. Read more about Wilde’s current works under Exhibitions.

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