Artist Profile

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Karen Sewell

Auckland New Zealand
Artist’s Statement

The Stand-In speaks of the language of representation and a contemporary iconography of the Divine. There are multiple contexts represented by the image that is both grounded and not grounded (for example sweet fresh, frozen or decaying relic?). Literally grounded and not grounded, for example, a black void and reflection and metaphorically because it is disconnected from context. The Stand-In is a traditional Easter food originally from Europe, common and customary especially in Poland and Czechoslovakia. At the origin, symbolically, it is directly related to the Jewish Passover festival as the paschal (sacrificial or Passover) lamb. The artisan mould maker is referenced, one who has to efficiently design form for multiple productions with something (cake batter) that is expanding. Therefore the finished product, the baked lamb cake, becomes something that is open to distortion and approximation. The commercial heavily reproduced in relation to the sacred comes into play.


Karen Sewell was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1969. Sewell works predominantly in photography and installation with sculpture and painting also present in her practice. She completed an MFA with honours at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design in Auckland in January 2016. She won the Premier Award of the Trust Art and Sculpture Awards in 2011, a finalist in the NZ portrait awards in 2012, and a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards in 2013. Her first solo public exhibition was at the TSB Wallace Arts Centre in 2014. She lives and works in St Heliers.

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