About the artist
A recent graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University, Níamh is an artist jeweller. Her work explores ideas of folk history, tactile memory and ritual. Specialising in metal casting -used in conjunction with other jewellery making processes- Níamh creates wearable objects. In each she celebrates the magical thinking of bygone days, in an endeavor to nurture belonging and protection.
Níamh incorporates inherited and found objects into her -often talismanic- works. Doing so provides a vehicle to preserve and reimagine stories and customs of the past. Such objects have recently included salt crystals, quenched coal and vials of anointed oil. These are then set into elements of cast brass.
The pieces explore how traditional Irish -and superstitious folk customs often relating to ‘the Otherworld’- inspires Níamh’s making of contemporary, ritual objects.
The resulting pieces intend to incite ‘ancestorial’ connection. By this, we mean the connection(s) we can make to our heritage via past generations through things we know they did, saw or felt. By rethinking and reproducing the protective practices used by these generations -and linking them with contemporary making- Níamh connects wearers to the past. Material connection (e.g., handling the metal or coal) is one aspect of engaging in the past, whilst fixing a piece to your clothing and adding coal, heat or other items or elements layers connectivity. Further, seeing or feeling the effects of the piece, such as the coal markings or warmth, continue the process of connection; engaging us in the same things our forebears saw or felt.
Spanning the month, Niamh’s pieces will be available to view throughout October, with a blend of exhibition and retail pieces. Watch out for an article from Niamh (on this site) and also our Meet the Maker event, at Bluecoat Display Centre, at 11am on Fri 20 Oct 2023.
Artistic statement and theme
Each year the Liverpool Irish Festival sets a programme theme. Past themes have included hunger, exchange, unique stories; creatively told, migration, the meaning of ‘Irishness’ and conviviality. To build the theme, we pose questions to help us interrogate and understand Irishness, its influence and its creative spirit. 2023’s theme is ‘Anniversary’ – read more here.
In the Window partnership
Bluecoat Display Centre is an independent, regional centre for artistic activity. It brings together craft makers and audiences, in an environment that encourages creativity, collaboration and the exchange of ideas. Based in Liverpool city centre, Bluecoat Display Centre runs a gallery as well as education and community outreach programmes. It’s been a registered charity since 2010. The Centre provides a retail platform for 60+ local and 300+ nationally selected contemporary craft makers and designers. Established as one of England’s earliest craft and design galleries (1959), Bluecoat Display Centre was the first public gallery space within The Bluecoat. It’s an advocate, facilitator and audience maker for contemporary crafts.
Liverpool Irish Festival brings Liverpool and Ireland closer together using arts and culture. It is this use of arts and culture as an instrument for observing, learning, sharing and debating Irishness, in the particular context of Liverpool, which makes us unique. We represent Northern Ireland, the Republic and the Irish diaspora’s creativity throughout the Festival. Our thematic approach to programming, critical-thought and curation develops depth, resonance and inclusion. In this context, we believe the Liverpool Irish Festival is the only Irish arts and culture led festival in the world. We can’t find another!
Bluecoat Display Centre and Liverpool Irish Festival have partnered on In The Window events for October for many years. Together, they have presented work from Laura Matikaite, Mike Byrne, Sophie Longwill, Rory Shearer, Christy Keeney, Berina Kelly and Catherine Keenan, among others.
Image: Lace caged coal brooch, Níamh Grimes, 2023.
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