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 (bronze casting) assistant. Wilde’s artwork often features themes around nature – recreating the macro surfaces found along New Zealand coastlines and forests, while collecting site-specific organic materials for experimental surface treatments.

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.”

Artist CV

Karen Wilde artist in flower dress holding large ceramic clay volcano contemporary art
Hands holding burnished clay ceramic birds by artist Karen Wilde

The introduction of a home-built Raku kiln 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 Trypo universe 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 and firing processes.

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

Puia Raku series are bubbling or dripping volcanic sculptures pulled red-hot from the raku kiln and transferred to a firey reduction chamber with combustibles. This produces unpredictable glaze colours and patterns while leaving smokey scorched marks on the raw clay areas. Experimental processes of including both inorganic and natural organic materials in the clay body, glazes and firing process result in every piece displaying unique surface textures.

  • Glistening volcano sculpture art smoking burner by Karen Wilde, raku fired clay
  • Puia Pupuhi / Bubbling Volcano, Raku Earthenware fired NZ red clay with glaze reduction
  • Set of raku fired abstract ceramic sculptures by Karen Wilde, smoking on block of wood.
  • Raku fired pottery, textures in clay