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Personal profile


Karen is a designer and teaching academic with a background in theatre, costume and 3D design practice covering over eighteen years teaching experience in university, art school and conservatoire education. She was recently Course Leader in Costume Design and Making at Nottingham Trent University and a Senior Lecturer in Theatre Design and Visual Arts for eight years. Prior to this, she was a pro-rata Senior Lecturer at Lincoln University, developing teaching activities on courses including Design for Exhibition & Museum, Drama and Interior Architectural Design courses. Karen has extensive experience in set and costume design after working for twelve years in the theatre design industry often as a resident Head of Design, plus a period in a freelance capacity. Former educational experience includes Course Leader and Head of Department, BA Theatre Design at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and Guest Lecturer in the Theatre Department at Central St Martins, London Institute and Foundations Studies, at Wimbledon School of Art.

Areas of teaching include 3D design for set and interior (theatre, exhibition and museum design), costume design and construction, drawing and character for performance, pattern cutting, garment fitting, textile processes and accessories including hats, props and puppets. Research, idea communication and presentation skills plus supervision of undergraduate final major projects and written rationales. Personal academic tutor, module leader and lecturer for graduating year groups with responsibility for degree shows and external exhibitions. Professional, industry and workshop practice, knowledge and expertise across performance contexts, design, construction & materials.

Karen has worked internationally as a professional designer for theatre, opera and dance including productions for Hong Kong Urban Council Opera/Hong Kong International Festival, Hong Kong Repertory Theatre and for the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. UK based professional work includes productions for Liverpool Playhouse, New Victoria Theatre, Stoke on Trent, York Theatre Royal, Royal Scottish Academy for Music & Drama, Bill Kenwright Limited, Derby Playhouse, Nottingham Playhouse and Roundabout Theatre, Colchester Mercury Theatre and Worcester Swan Theatre. Karen has previously held appointments as Head of Design at Nottingham Playhouse Theatre and Colchester, Mercury Theatre as well as Resident Designer at the Swan Theatre, Worcester.

Karen was External Examiner for BA (Hons) Historical and Performance Costume, Hull and Teesside Universities, (Scarborough College) for four years, 2014 – 2017. She was also External Examiner for BA (Hons) Scenic Arts, University of Manchester (Rose Bruford College) for four years until 2015.

Research Expertise and Interests

Karen's research area is the design of set and costume for performance, and the design of narrative events and costume objects. She is an academic with a specific focus on costume research areas, including research in sustainability within the performing arts area and drawing for scenographers, also exhibition and museum design and user interaction. Construction research areas include costume making techniques, historical costume research, tailoring, tutus and costume textile techniques stitch and knit, costume accessories and sculptural garment construction. Karen was previously a researcher on the Virtual Stages Research Group at Central St Martins, London Institute.

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Theatre
  • Performance
  • Narrative
  • Construction
  • Making
  • Museums
  • Costume Design
  • Drawing
  • Textiles
  • Fashion History
  • Design
  • design process
  • Designing
  • Design Thinking
  • Collaboration
  • theatre history


Dive into the research topics where Karen Bartlett is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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