200 Voices


Karen Mclean


My local surroundings and context influence my work and practice in many ways. My interests lie in the connected history that I share with Britain, having grown up in the Caribbean and now residing in the UK.


I am keenly interested in the Caribbean community that came here during the Windrush period and their continued development and status as a minority community. My interests have allowed me to research as far back as slavery on the plantations and to question the continued effects of colonialism.


Being on site in Bournville for 8 years further prompted me to research Cadburys connection to the Caribbean. George Cadbury built his image on his labour, but parallel to his development of Bournville he developed two cocoa plantations in Trinidad. On these plantations he used indentured labourers, a system that replaced slavery with minute differences. I gained access to the Cadbury archives which resulted in a site specific installation that challenged the representation of George Cadbury, and the ethics of capitalism.

Being an artist working in my country is both exciting and challenging. There are many opportunities and competitions which give you a chance to grow. However there are also many great artists, which means the competition is steep. This works in a positive way for me encouraging me to be the best that I can be.

Being an artist allows you to interrogate the banal things that most people take for granted. Research allows a greater understanding and the articualtion of the research a learned skill. Having access to substantial libraries is critical, along with support from ACE and other organisations that are geared to the arts. Being an artist in England has been a great journey, one that has only just begun.



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