Karen Babayan was born in Tehran, Iran in 1962, of Armenian-British parentage and came to the UK in 1978 at the age of 16, just before the Islamic Revolution in Iran. After living in Leeds, West Yorkshire for over 30 years, Babayan moved once again and is now based in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria.
Babayan explores diasporan identity through painting, photography, print and multidisciplinary works including ‘Swallows and Armenians’ 2019 a book of short stories (pub. Wild Pansy Press 2019), a performance with Young Company based on stories from the book and an exhibition at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick; ‘Packing’, a performance piece about exile and ‘Blood Oranges Dipped in Salt’, a book of fictionalised family stories, published by the Wild Pansy Press, University of Leeds, 2012.
Best known as a visual artist, Babayan has exhibited extensively, both in the UK and abroad, including the Yervand Kochar Museum & Art Gallery, Yerevan, Armenia and the Samual Zacks Gallery, Toronto, Canada; UK exhibitions include the The Tetley, Centre for Contemporary Art, Leeds, Ikon Gallery (touring), Birmingham, Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, Harris Art Gallery, Preston, Peterborough Art Gallery, Bury Art Gallery and the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London.
Babayan is also a freelance curator, with exhibitions for St Paul’s Gallery, Leeds, the Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax and the Highlights Contemporary Craft Tour for Cumbria, Co. Durham and Northumberland.