All images Copyright © Karen Bell 2019

For several years I have been exploring natural curiosities - dead birds, feathers, insects, reeds, twisted vines, shards of ice - as discovered and photographed during my many wanderings, or gathered and brought back to my studio where they get incorporated into my life and often into images.

 

When I first encountered a Red-Bellied woodpecker lying in a pile of bamboo branches I decided to use the situation as a chance to take a closer look at a creature I would never have been able to investigate while it was alive.  I experienced both thrill and sorrow as I proceeded to photograph and scan this beautiful bird. When I realized I could do no more, I placed the bird outside; it was gone in the morning.  Not a trace of its existence – except for my photographs.

The circle of life:  one creature dies so another can thrive?

This closeup observation has led me to photographing other birds - living birds - in their natural habitats.

 

In the Vellum/Vines images,  there are layers of two images – vellum over paper.  The layering is not unlike the density one observes when walking in the woods:  there is always so much to see, but impossible to focus on it all at once.

The newest work on the site are my Sand Abstractions. The ebb and flow of life is hard to ignore when you live on a beach.  The remnants of life, both human and aquatic, are there if you choose to notice.  I perceive these remnants as abstract pleasures.  Using a camera phone more often than not, I am free to explore, experiment and observe.