Karen Lee



Born in Darlinghurst I now live and work in Glenmore Park a suburb at the base of the Blue Mountains in NSW.A mother, wife and grandmother life is busy. After completing my degree in 2012 I have been working on my art practice and since 2015 it has pretty much been my fulltime work.

I am a Wiradjuri woman with cultural ties to Dubbo and the Tubba-Gah(red earth) clan. I am the Great Granddaughter of aboriginal activist William Ferguson and Alex ‘Tracker’ Riley, the first Aboriginal man to be recognised in the Police force of NSW. I am also the niece of renowned Aboriginal artist Michael Riley whose work conceptually inspires my own work. There are many artists in my family in areas of painting, photography and music; it definitely runs in the blood.

It’s a cliché I know but drawing, painting, and anything creative has been a passion all my life. When I was young my biggest excitement would be getting new colored pencils and drawing pad .My younger artistic years were spent drawing and colouring patterns of flowers, horses, dancers and weird abstract designs. In my mid 20’s I studied design and art and was mainly sketching still life’s and designing patterns in ink. My university study (a double degree in Fine art and Visual culture) took me 6 years to complete while raising my family and was instrumental in developing as an artist. Being exposed to both a variety of styles and understanding the context and importance of art in culture I began to ponder about what I wanted to express through my art. Combining a love of history, my indigenous culture and a love of landscapes and nature I began to develop a style that represents storytelling through the eyes of an Aboriginal woman in a contemporary culture. The idea that the past and present are inherently connected is what underpins my work and is expressed visually using motifs of native flora and fauna, and Aboriginal art symbols in stand-alone designs, landscapes and places.

My work is different ,and although I recognize the importance of traditional storytelling in my culture , I also believe it is important to recognize a contemporary Indigenous culture which embraces new ways of expressing this ancient culture through the stories of modern Aboriginal Men ,women and children.