Ms Karen Heald

Job Role
Senior Lecturer in Film and Photography


Dr Karen Heald is a Lecturer and member of the School of Creative Arts Research Centre.

Karen started working in the department of Photography and Film at Wrexham Glyndŵr University in 2017. She teaches on the BA (Hons) and MDes programme, as well as supervising PhD students.

She is an artist, filmmaker and academic researcher, whose artwork has evolved out of working site-specifically and on international residencies. Through a variety of media, primarily moving image, installation and photography, Karen has evolved her own poetic visual language that engages with the differences and similarities between painting and film, creating a language of ‘painterly reverie’ that communicates difficult social issues with oblique, visual stanzas.

She teaches within and outside of academia, in gallery contexts and via socially engaged art projects. She has engaged in a variety of collaborations with diverse practitioners such as artists, musicians, dancers/choreographers, scientists, medical doctors and numerous other academics. Karen’s multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary arts practice has secured funding from arts and science organisations, such as the Arts Council of Wales, North Wales Medical Institution and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Alongside her art practice, she teaches on the MA Fine Art programme, School of Creative Studies & Media and is a Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Bangor University. At the University of Salford, Karen was a member of the Critical Theory Group, taught on the MA Creative Education programme, and her research within the Contemporary Fine Art Practice Group focused on narrative, sensory intelligences and kinaesthetic learning through creative frameworks.

The concept of ‘in-between-ness’ in her PhD explored time, creativity and its relationship to film, site-specificity, and the philosophical complexities of arts and science collaborations.


Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy, 2017.

Practice-based PhD, titled ‘Dream Films’ and Research as Collaborative Practice through Contemporary Art and Science Methodologies Leeds Beckett University, 2014.

MA (Merit) Contemporary Fine Art Practice, Leeds Beckett University, 2004.

BA (Hons) First Class, Visual Arts, University of Salford, 2002.


Professional Affiliations

Higher Education Academy, Senior Fellow, 2017.

Centre for Mental Health & Society (CFMHAS), 2013 onwards.

American Philosophical Association, 2012 onwards.

Augmented Realities and Virtual Worlds, 2012 onwards.

Contemporary Art Network, 2012 onwards.

Interactive Narrative, 2012 onwards.

Creative Arts, Health and Wellbeing, 2012 onwards.

Creative and Applied Research for the Digital Society (CARDS), 2012 onwards.

NESTA, 2011 onwards.

Scientist Artist Collaborations, 2011 onwards.

Northern Arts & Science Network, 2010 onwards.

Person Centred Care Group (UoS), 2010- 2012.

Arts Catalyst (International Arts and Science Group), 2007 onwards.

Learning and Teaching Research Network (LTRN) Writers Group, 2007 - 2012.

Institute of Videography (IOV), 2006 onwards.

Affinities (International Science and Art Group), 2005 onwards.

Leeds Visual Art Forum (LVAF), 2004 onwards.

Northern Film Network (NFN), 2002 onwards.


Board Member

Northern Arts & Science Network (NASN), 2012 - 2014.


External Activities - Peer Reviewer

Earnshaw, R. (2016), Research and Development in Art, Design and Creativity. Switzerland, Springer International Publishers.

Metoudi, A. (2016) The Dovetail Journal: Phenomenology, Literature, Creative Arts and Media. Issue 2 Autumn 2016. Bangor, Dovetail: ILCAM (based at Bangor University).


Karen's research charts a gradual transition from an individual working mode to involving collaborations with others. As a progression from undertaking artist-in-residency placements, collaborations have emerged with other creative practitioners, scientists of different professions and psychiatric patients. Her research as collaborative practice is set within the context of contemporary art, arts and science research, feminist action, participation and site-responsive approaches.

A complex collaborative methodology has been established through the performative use of time-based media while engaging with the psychoanalyst, linguist and philosopher, Julia Kristeva's concept of the semiotic chora. Her working methodology draws on this notion as a preverbal and creative space that relates to rhythms, colours and trace. Using audio-visual technologies, the research expands on Kristeva’s chora in relation to time and melancholia and also, as a way to further address these vulnerable states, identifies a number of new concepts: ‘transitory strata’, the ‘unconscious thetic’ and ‘in-between-ness’.

The research outcomes are manifested as 'dream films' echoing the ephemeral and transitional spaces of the mind; the imaginary; reverie and states between wakefulness and sleep; the unconscious and layers of consciousness, such as that of the creative or the depressive and psychotic who travels between several time zones simultaneously. Through painterly, poetic non-linear video narratives, these ‘in-between’ spaces are played out. The films aspire to be beautifully eloquent and texturally emotive, while also intentionally ambivalent and often deliberately perturbing. As such, the ‘unconscious thetic’ latently reveals itself to an enquiring viewer at the threshold of meaning.

The collaborative project In-between-ness is an example of a research project with artist/painter Susan Liggett, where collaborative films were made in response to our experience of working with the participants on the project. The In-between-ness study was a novel collaboration between professional artists, clinical researchers and people suffering from depression; to extend the exploration of experiential effects of antidepressant treatment. The research team worked closely with the participants at the Hergest Psychiatrist Unit, Bangor, to explore the effects of treatment for depression.


Karen teaches theory and practice on the following programmes and modules.


MDes Photography & Film



  • Contextual Studies 1, 2 & 3
  • Introductory Subject Studies
  • Principles & Processes
  • Creative Futures 1, 2 & 3
  • Ideas & Concepts
  • Media & Techniques
  • Extended Practice
  • Practice & Context
  • Specialist Study
  • Negotiated Studies 1 &2
  • Locating Practice
  • Practice & Application
  • Advanced Professional Practice

Her research informs her teaching at undergraduate, postgraduate levels and via her supervision of PhD students.


Book Chapters in Books

Heald, K. & Liggett, S. (2017) chapter Visual Arts, Mental Health and Technology in Research and Development in Art, Design and Creativity III, edited by Rae Earnshaw. Switzerland, Springer.

Heald, K. & Garton, M. (2017) book Synergy 17. Preface by Professor Paul Haywood, Central Saint Martins. Bangor, Bangor University.

Heald, K. (2015) ‘Interiors Interiors’. In: Tyson, A. ed. Eglurhad |Explication. Ruthin, Arts Council Wales & Ruthin Craft Centre.

Heald, K. & Garton, M. (2014) Suspended Narratives. Preface by Professor Paul Haywood.Salford, University of Salford.

Heald, K. (2014) ‘Dream films’, Women’s Time and Sleep. In: Front, S. & Bemben, A. eds. Hours like Bright Sweets in  a Jar – Time and Temporality in Literature and Culture. Cambridge, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.143-169.

Heald, K., & Liggett, S. (2014) Time and the chora: ‘Transitory strata’ and ‘in-between-ness’ within ‘dream films’. In: Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, B. ed. Time & Temporality in Language and Human Experience. Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, pp.401-409.

Earnshaw, R., Liggett, S. & Heald, K. (2013)Interdisciplinary Collaboration Methodologies in Art, Design and Media In: Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Internet Technologies and Applications (ITA 2013), September 10-13, 2013, Wrexham, UK. Wrexham,Glyndwr University, pp.381-388.


Conference Presentations | Papers | Workshops

Heald, K. (2017) A Suitcase of Her Own: Women and Travel. In: Proceedings of the Department of Postcolonial Studies and Travel Literatures, Institute of English Cultures and Literatures, September 20-23, 2017, Katowice, Poland. Katowice, University of Silesia. Held in Szczyr, Poland, 2017.

Cwmni'r Fran Wen, Menai Bridge, Presentation and Workshop (2016).

Liggett, S., Heald, K., Earnshaw, R. A., Thompson, E. & Excell, P. S. (2015) Collaborative Research in Art, Design and New Media – Challenges and Opportunities. In: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Internet Technologies and Applications (ITA 15), September 8-11, 2015, Wrexham, UK. Wrexham, Glyndŵr University.

Earnshaw. R.A., Liggett, S., Cunningham, S., Heald, K., Thompson, E. & Excell,P.S. (2015) Models for Research in Art, Design, and the Creative Industries. In: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Internet Technologies and Applications (ITA 15), September 8-11, 2015, Wrexham, UK. Wrexham, Wrexham Glyndŵr University.

Heald, K. & Liggett, S. (2015) In-Between-ness. In: Proceedings of Slippage: The Unstable Nature of Difference, 10th March 2015, Chester, UK. Chester, Chester University.

Heald, K. & Liggett, S. (2014) In-between-ness: Creativity, Film and Wellbeing. In: Proceedings of AXISweb symposium, Creativity, Health and Wellbeing, 26th June 2014, Llandudno, UK. MOSTYN, Llandudno, UK.

Heald, K. (2014) Research as Collaborative Practice. MA Fine Art, Bangor University, UK, 11th March, 2014. 

Heald, K. (2014) Fine Art: Collaboration and Film. In: Proceedings of Creative Futures, March 3-6, 2014, Wrexham, UK. Wrexham, Wrexham Glyndŵr University.

Heald, K. (2014) In-between-ness: Using art to capture changes to the self during antidepressant treatment. School of Social Sciences Research Day, Bangor University, UK, 26 February, 2014. 

Heald, K. & Liggett, S. In-between-ness: Using art to capture a sense of self. Public Lecture, Gallery Sycharth, Wrexham Glyndŵr University, Wrexham, Wales (30th October, 2013).

Earnshaw, R., Liggett, S. & Heald, K. (2013) Interdisciplinary Collaboration Methodologies in Art, Design and Media In: Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Internet Technologies and Applications (ITA 2013), September 10-13, 2013, Wrexham, UK. Wrexham, Wrexham Glyndŵr University.


Exhibitions | Film screenings

National Art Exhibition 2017, exhibition of filmed performance and paintings, Ellesmere College, England, 2017.

Lumiere Visible film screenings and video sculpture at La Grange aux Verrières, Saint-Hilaire en Lignières, France, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2016.

Trywydd. Voyage premiere of film exhibited in the […] space, Mission Gallery, Swansea, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2015.

Weaving Narratives film screening of Lateral Flight, St Asaph Cathedral, Wales, with Angela Davies & Angelina Kornecka, 2015.

The egg, the womb, the head and the moon, video installation, Artsmill, Hebden Bridge, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2014.

The National Art Exhibition 2014, exhibition of film and paintings, Ellesmere College, England with Susan Liggett, 2013.

Engage Cymru exhibition of artworks produced by hard to reach young people, with Engage Cymru, Oriel Mostyn and AFASIC, Oriel Mostyn with mentee artists Jan Miller & Alana Tyson, 2013.

Moreton Hall Centenary Art Exhibition film screening, Fine Art Society, Bond Street, London, with Susan Liggett, 2013.

Engage Cymru exhibition of artworks produced by young people in collaboration with Engage Cymru, Oriel Wrecsam and the Youth Offenders Team. Oriel Wrecsam, with mentee artist Angela Davies, 2013.

In-between-ness exhibition of video installations, video stills and paintings, Gallery Sycharth, Wrexham Glyndŵr University, Wrexham, with Susan Liggett, 2013.

Maker in Focus, video installation, Mission Gallery, Swansea, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2013.

Helfa Gelf/Art Trail Glyndŵr Collective, School of Art & Design, Wrexham, Wales, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2013. 

In-between-ness: Using art to capture the changes to the self during antidepressant treatment collaborative exhibition of video installations, video stills, paintings and artist books, Royal College of Psychiatry International Congress, Edinburgh, UK, with Susan Liggett Rob Poole, Richard Tranter & participants, 2013.

Be Our Guest site-specific response, multi-media installation at Oriel Davies Gallery and The Gro Guest House, Newtown, Wales, Bird-Jones & Heald, 2013.

In-between-nessvideo stills / installations and paintings from R&D project at Ysbyty Bangor Hospital, Oriel Pendeitsh, Caernarfon, UK, with Susan Liggett & participants, 2013.


Gallery Education Roles

Lead Artist / Artist Mentor in collaboration with MOSTYN / CLYCH / Penrhos School, 2015.

Artist / Filmmaker collaboration with Alana Tyson & Ruthin Craft Centre, 2015.

Lead Artist / Artist Mentor, Engage Cymru / Oriel Mostyn / Hard to Reach Young People, 2013-2014.

Lead Artist / Artist Mentor, Engage Cymru / Oriel Wrecsam / Wrexham Youth Offenders Team, 2013.


Artwork in Collection

Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo en Vidrio de Alcorcón-MAVA, Madrid, Spain, Bird-Jones & Heald.

Private Collections.


Exhibition Catalogues

Slippage: The Unstable Nature of Difference Contemporary Art Space Chester (CASC), University of Chester, with Susan Liggett, 2015.

Woman Fine Art Society, Bond Street, London, (16th–17th November, 2013) with Susan Liggett, 2013.


Online Article

Bird-Jones & Heald (2014) Once a Mother always a Mother: The Swing and the Hook, Mewe Arts Collective. Available from: <> [Accessed 10 February, 2014].



Bird-Jones & Heald in conversation with Amber Hiscott and Catrin Jones, Mission Gallery, Swansea, 2015.