Bones & Beasts by Patricia Niemann opens at IMAG this weekend

26 Apr 2011 in Highland, Visual Arts & Crafts

Lichen Fungi Ring by Patricia Niemann

Spotlight Show: Bones & Beasts by Patricia Niemann opens this weekend (Saturday 30th April 2011) at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Patricia has been participating in Making Progress 2011 – a HI-Arts mentoring project for mid career makers. Patricia’s exhibition will be on display at IMAG until 28th May 2011.

Patricia Niemann is a German-trained goldsmith and designer with a master’s degree from Edinburgh College of Art in glass. Since 2003 she is based in a studio based in the wilds of Caithness, where she primarily makes contemporary fine jewellery. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and works free-lance as designer and as an instructor at North Lands Creative Glass.

However, most of her recent work is informed by her experience of the Far North of Scotland, with its wilderness, wide open spaces, the deteriorating and forming effects of the harsh weather and the clean air – and local funeral archaeology. She is most interested in all forms of body adornment, especially objects that change the silhouette of the wearer. In her practice, much of her work develops by drawing. Materials used are precious metals, hot glass (blown and hot sculpted), textiles and found objects.

Caithness Shroud by Patricia Niemann

“Making Progress has been a life-changing experience for me. I was able to concentrate on new pieces, some of which I have been excited about for a while – without having to think about purely commercial considerations. These pieces were mostly about anthropology and local mortuary archaeology. Indeed, the archaeology theme is running through the exhibition. In all my work I am drawn to turn human fears into decorative things – and inject a bit of humour on the way. Death is the single biggest threat to our very existence as human beings. As soon as we are born, we are bound to die. And in our culture we desperately try to banish every thought of death. This in my view makes it even more threatening. I am fascinated by the different ways mankind has tried to deal with death through history – and about adding my personal thoughts on the matter.

More recently I have become ever more intrigued by lichen. It only grows, where the air is clean – and it takes a long time to grow. It marks the passage of time. It grows on grave markers, standing stones, brochs and cairns, forgotten ruined crofts and gnarly trees and branches. Lichens are a combination of algae and fungi. And fungi are associated with the good (e.g. bakers yeast, antibiotics), the bad (mould, poisonous mushrooms) and the uncanny. They are neither strictly plant nor animal. Fungi spread through spores and sprawling networks of mycelium; they grow in strange shapes and have something alien and disconcerting about them.

During the “Making Progress” programme I have experienced challenges like social media, online research, blogging and training in good business practice – and at the same time encouragement, support and mentoring. My life and work has become ever more “viral”, even more exciting and akin to a whirlwind. I feel linked closer to the world and at the pulse of things. I have grown more confident about the small things I am passionate about and the very local and precious inspirations, which are to discover in Caithness. My creative view has expanded into a bigger awareness and at the same time focussed in on detail. My work is my life – and it has just become fuller.

The opportunity to collaborate with the film maker Catherine Weir has also been an enriching and inspiring experience: Elements of theatre and the medium of performance are becoming more and more important in my artistic expression.”

HI-Arts Craft Development supports makers in the Highlands and Islands. Making Progress is their mentoring programme for mid career makers Find out more about HI-Arts Craft Development here:

Find out more about Patricia and her work by visiting her website:

Source: HI-Arts Craft Development

Funding for the programme: HIE, Creative Scotland, Rural Innovation Fund.