Karen Purple

Further Info

Inspired by an interest in natural history and the work of both the biologist and the landscape historian, Karen Purple engages with the formation of the landscape and the organic materials within it. Her work derives from a daily connection to the countryside. It is through walking and collecting natural substances and materials that a personal journal develops, of remembered responses and experiences that inform her paintings.

Ongoing research projects in Devon, Cornwall and Wales go on to inform her work back in the studio. Finding inspiration in the distinct light and colour palette of the coastline, collections of drawings are made and natural materials are collected. These findings act as strong contrasts to the soft light of the Oxfordshire countryside.

Karen Purple was a finalist for the Threadneedle Prize, Mall Galleries, London (2012) and selected for exhibitions at RWA, Bristol (2013, 2012, 2011). Her solo exhibitions include Pennwood House (2014, 2012, 2011, 2008), and Oxford University Arboretum. She has work in the Public Catalogue Foundation and private collectors worldwide.

Born in Liverpool, Karen grew up in Suffolk and is now living in rural Oxfordshire. She graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a First Class Honours Degree in Fine Art in 2004.

AN Interface 2010
Oxford Times 2010
Chris Jennings Review 2008
Oxford Times 2008
Oxford Times 2007
Oxford Student 2007


Solo Exhibitions

2012 Pennwood House, Oxford, 22 September - 14 October, 'New Work'
2011 Pennwood House, Oxford, 12 June - 3 July, 'Natural Worlds' two-person show with Fiona Hepburn
2010 North Wall Arts Centre, 17 April - 6 May, South Parade, Oxford. ‘Fieldwork.’ Work made as a result of the residency at the Oxford University Harcourt Arboretum
2008 Pennwood House, 22 November – 7 December, Cassington, Oxfordshire, ‘Terre Verte’
2007 Riverhouse Community Arts Centre. 16 October - 24 November, 'Of pigment and memory'
2007 O3 Gallery, April. Oxford, ‘Between here and there’. Presented by Oxford Visual Arts Development Agency in partnership with Oxford Castle Ltd
2007 Galanthus, March, Commercial gallery, Herefordshire, ‘New paintings - colour block series’
2007 IceTwice, February. Commercial gallery, Buckinghamshire, ‘New paintings – pollen series’
2006 Ovada, August. Public gallery, Oxford, ‘Paintings and Drawings – works inspired by pollen and pigment’ Oxford Visual Arts Development Agency supported by Arts Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford Brookes University

Group Exhibitions

2011 RWA Bristol, 30 October - 31 December, '159 Autumn Exhibition'
2011 Magdalen Road Studios, Oxford, 29 October, 'Immediate Territory' 
2011 O3 Gallery, Oxford, 23 July – 21 August, Fifth Anniversary Show
2011 Magdalen Road Studios, Oxford, 21-22 May, Open studios 
2011 Magdalen Road Studios, Oxford, 26-27 March, 'Spring Show' 
2010 Magdalen Road Studios, Oxford, 8-16 May, Open studios 
2009 Notfamousyet, Art Consultancy and Guerrilla Gallery, 24 November-24 December, Oxford, ‘Small Obsessions’
2009 O3 Gallery, 28 March – 26 April, Oxford, EndNotes - In conjunction with Oxford Literary Festival and Oxfringe
2008 Modern Art Oxford, 12 January to 17 February, 'The Oxford Open'
2007 Beldam Gallery, Brunel University, Middlesex. 2 November - 14 December, 'Weathered'
2006 Surface Gallery, December. Nottingham, The Postcard Show’
2005 St Edwards School, finalist for SES Open Art Competition, May. Oxford, Selected by Karen Wright, editor of Modern Painters
2005 Affordable Art Fair, September. Battersea, ‘pollen paintings’
2004 Modern Art Oxford, March
2003 Oxford, ‘2541 crushed cochineal beetles’ Frevds café-bar, September, Oxford
2003 Oxford Brookes University, Degree Show, June
2002 Natural History Museum, October, Oxford, ‘Object Talk’


2010 The Riverside Museum, Blake’s Lock, Reading, 10-23 May. Three artists working in their own unique way to explore, discover, record collect and respond to the site with sound, video and drawing
2009 Oxford University Arboretum, Nuneham Courtney, July. Art in the Arboretum. An International Project involving six artists from Europe and six from Oxford working outside on site for the duration