Talking heads with artist Karen Thompson

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Artist Karen Thompson is making headway with one of her latest projects – a collection of Victorian gentlemen’s faces.

The first earthernware bust was made as a commission for Scarborough Art Gallery and used as part of its Fears, Foes and Faeries exhibition.

132836b Artist Karen Thompson with her ceramic heads at Crescent Arts. Picture by Neil Silk 11/07/13

132836b Artist Karen Thompson with her ceramic heads at Crescent Arts. Picture by Neil Silk 11/07/13

“I made it as a phrenology head and kept the mould and decided it would be nice to develop the idea,” said Karen.

She has been based at Crescent Arts in Scarborough for three years. The heads featured in its Sixes and Sevens show.

“They all have a Victorian feel – the stripes are meant to represent bathing costumes. At the moment I have three characters, Wilf, Albert and Gordon.

“I have tried to give them Victorian names,” she said.

They are not purely ornamental. “I wanted to develop them into tureens, which are long forgotten now in our rituals. The heads hark back to a time when tureens were popular,” said Karen.

“I want to encourage people to use them on their dining tables.”

Three heads were bought by a gallery in Margate as part of its Curiosities show and they are sold in Homebird House in St Helen’s Sqaure and Angela and Rosie in Bar Street. They go for £195 each.

“I am now working on making them more individual, colourful and modern,” said Karen.

Among her other projects is making heads of Michael Gove - the Secretary of State for Education – to be used in an Aunt Sally-style shy at the Art Party Conference at the Spa, Scarborough, in November.