Karen Babayan was born in Tehran, Iran 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 writing, painting, photography, print, performance, film and multidisciplinary works. Recent projects include ‘Swallows and Armenians’, an exhibition at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, a book of short stories (pub. Wild Pansy Press 2019) and a performance with Young Company at Theatre by the Lake based on stories from the book. ‘Blood Oranges Dipped in Salt’ (Wild Pansy Press), a book of fictionalised family stories was published in 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.