Karen Stewart studied Fine Art at Wits University in the late ‘80s and after her second year changed to Graphic Design, registering as a student at the Johannesburg Art Foundation, founded by Bill Ainslie (one of South Africa’s preeminent abstract expressionists). She qualified in 1990 and enjoyed a successful freelance career spanning 10 years, travelling extensively in Africa and Europe, ‘soaking up as much art as possible’. 

After working in London for a year, Karen arrived back in Cape Town in 1998 and started teaching Graphic Design and Drawing at Ruth Prowse School of Art. She adds: ‘I began painting again, producing multimedia work, which examined the commodification of women’s bodies by the mass media. This was a prolific period of production and I exhibited in several group shows.