Bridget Bernadette Karn – A textile art dream realised

When Bridget Bernadette Karn began exploring felting six years ago she never imagined it was the first step towards exhibiting in the 2016 Summer Exhibition at The Royal Academy of Art.

Bridget’s fascination with the arts developed at an early age. However life got in the way as work, family responsibilities and health issues prevented her from following a creative career. Undeterred Bridget continued to study her passion at college, attending summer schools and evening classes whenever possible. Then in 2006 she started an Arts and Crafts Club in her local area.

Bridget Karn in her studio. Photograph by Jo Hughes
Bridget Karn in her studio. Photograph by Jo Hughes

“I wanted somewhere for likeminded people to come together, sharing ideas and skills. Members brought in different crafts for each other to try and one of the ladies suggested felting. I had never tried it before so had a go. Straight away I could see the potential for picture making.”

Bridget continued to experiment with felt picture making until 2012 when a supportive friend saw a picture of sunflowers she had created during her time recovering from an operation. Her friend suggested she show it at the Boston Spa Art Festival.

The experience acted as the starting point for developing her passion for felt picture making into something more than a hobby. Time was something of a premium though as she had a busy life being a full time carer and running another business alongside a part time job. But the death of her Father in 2013 left her exhausted and struggling to cope with chronic fatigue syndrome.

“I realised that the world didn’t stop without me and I needed to take some time to rest and let go of some of my responsibilities.  Making my felt pictures played a large part of my recovery.”

This was a turning point for Bridget and – with a growing profile on Facebook – she asked her followers to help her choose which piece she would submit to The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. They chose ‘Frosted Woodland’. After reaching the second round of judging Bridget informed her followers that the piece was on its way to The Royal Academy to be viewed. There was an incredible response with over 600 wishes of good luck.

In June Bridget learned that ‘Frosted Woodland’ would be part of this years Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Exhibition. This is a wonderful result not only for Bridget but for textile artists everywhere, who can sometimes struggle to be taken seriously in the art world.  Bridget can hardly contain her excitement and her Facebook community is just as thrilled as she is.

“Well, over the moon doesn’t touch how it feels. Congratulations have been overwhelming and my email inbox is overflowing. If only I could bottle this feeling and save it!”

If you would like to see ‘Frosted Woodland’ and the other successful pieces the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition will be open to the public until 21st August. You can book a place on one of Bridget’s felt workshops and find out more about her work over on the website.

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