How one remarkable York artist went from local craft club to the Royal Academy

Bridget at work in her studio
9 Aug 2016 @ 3.11 pm
| News

When Bridget Bernadette Karn began exploring felting six years ago she could never have imagined that she was on the path to the Royal Academy of Art.

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition

Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD

Till August 21


More details

Bridget developed a fascination with the arts at an early age. Life however got in the way as work, family responsibilities and health issues prevented her from developing an artistic 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 close to her home at Acaster Malbis, near York.

“I wanted somewhere that likeminded people could come together, sharing ideas and skills,” she said.

“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 the picture of sunflowers she had created during her time recovering from an operation and suggested she show it at the Boston Spa Art Festival.

This experience was the starting point for developing her passion for felt picture making into something more than a hobby.

Chronic fatigue

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 – earlier this year she asked her followers to help her choose which piece she would submit to the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition.

The work in the exhibition, Frosted Woodland
The work in the exhibition, Frosted Woodland

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.

Earlier this summer Frosted Woodland was chosen to be apart of the exhibition, where it is on show for nine weeks until August 21.

Overwhelming congratulations

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 was thrilled.

“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!”