Karen Atherley was born in Manchester in 1961. After completing a two year Foundation Course at Rochdale College of Art she specialised in ceramics at Camberwell College of Art and Crafts, where she was exposed to the wide ranging influence of tutors and prominent potters Colin Pearson and Janice Tchalenko.
A college vacation spent on the Greek Island of Patmos united her interest in figurative work with ancient Greek art and vivid Mediterranean colour. Upon graduating from Camberwell in 1983, she established a studio in South London with Belen Gomaz, Rimmington Vian and Rob Turner.
1985 saw Crafts Council recognition of Karen's talent with the award of a 'Setting Up Grant' enabling her to invest in essential equipment. She has exhibited at Chelsea Crafts Fair through 1987 - 90 and in 1994.
In 1988 Karen was selected by Eastern Arts for the 'first impressions' promotion, a joint venture with Anglia Television and the National Trust to promote craftspeople in eastern England. This led to her taking part in the 'Looking East' travelling exhibition which started in Norwich before moving to the handwerkshammer gallery in Koblenz, Germany.
Notable exhibitions followed in 1992 at Beaux Arts in Bath with the watercolourist Sir Hugh Casson and in 1993 with the painter Brian Lewis. Internationally, Karen has exhibited in France, Canada and in the U.S at Henry Bendalls in New York.
In 1997 Karen moved to New Jersey in the U.S.A with her husband. Here she took time to attend life drawing classes, printing courses and studying textiles at the Institute of Fashion and Technology in Manhattan. Returning to the UK in 1999, she took a break from ceramics whilst raising a young family and moving to rural Lincolnshire.
Karen has recently started to exhibit again, notably at Midas in Lincoln and Bircham Gallery in Holt, Norfolk. Exhibitions are planned at the Orange Street Gallery in Uppingham and the Gladstone Museum in Stoke. A research trip to Japan - sponsored by the Arts Council, Crafts Council, DTI & Design Factory - undertaken lately, has opened the door to further exhibiting possibilities further afield.