Photo credit: Ivaylo Petrov
Niki Collier is a long term member of Felt maker Ireland. She contacted us to let us know that her work has been selected to be shown at the National Design & Craft Gallery, Kilkenny as part of an international Exhibition started on Feb 9th and running through to 23rd June. The exhibition is called
We decided to ask Niki a little about her life and work as a felt maker.
Tell us a little about you as a person? E.g. upbringing/ work other than felt etc.
I think as a person I am always open for change. It is always very difficult to state I am this or that as when life presents its challenges, we end up reinventing ourselves.
I am a Dublin based visual artist and maker based in Marlay Park. I come from a small quiet town in Bulgaria and all the horizons that felt and creative community has offered to me still make me pinch myself.
Some people like my garments and accessories. Others get my sculptures of microorganisms. Or people see my passion for felt and teaching and get fired up about felting when we have a workshop. But who am I? I am all these things and a hot headed disabled woman from Bulgaria, who had the audacity to marry an English bloke in Ireland? Wow, I am lucky!
I do all my projects with an urgency informed by the realisation that next moment in our life everything can go south. My nuclear family has a girl with complex health problems and often our team- me, my husband and my other daughter need to readjust not just schedule but also plans and priorities. Still she is the constant source of my inspiration and the foundation of my artistic practice
We live in a tiny two up to down terrace house on South Circular Road with Bongo, our cat. All members of the family love felt. They wouldn’t dare not to.
Here is a link to an interview on you tube- this gives you more insight into my life as a felt maker.
Before I committed to practicing felt making I had tried a few different paths. I graduated as a teacher and after teaching for a short while I won a scholarship for doctoral research in UCD. After finishing the PhD I lectured for a few years. I loved lecturing, but it was not enough. After my daughter Coral, who has special needs, was born, I had to grow up that bit more. Then I found felt and that was it!
How and when did you start Felting… what is your experience, tell us a little about your journey?
The enlighten to start working in felt came up from an idea for a lighting unit- I tried to make a prototype in various materials, but it was only when I made it in felt I knew I have resolved not just this project, but I opened up possibility to limitless creativity. I love wool and how it could express everything and could resolve all.
I wanted to try felting and contacted Felt makers Ireland who took me under their wing and gave me access to their knowledge and projects. I loved every minute of it.
Since I was a newbie I was very eager to learn. I have learned from many: Sheila Ahern, Nicola Brown, Horst, Lisa Klakulak, Diana Nagorna, Marjolein Dellinga and Nina Demidova.
I was gutted when I couldn’t get a place on Judith Pods and Gladys Paulus workshops with Felt makers Ireland, due to them being oversubscribed but I am thankful that being part of the group has allowed me to travel and network with other communities while participating in alternative workshops with them.
Photo Credit: Ivaylo Pretrov
Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation?
My process is simple. It starts with something that I see as a problem and I look for ways to solve it.
This need transpires into a collection that people wear or in sculptural pieces that I share with folk with passion for visual interpretation of us and our world.
In all my work I start with complex ideas and an array of materials and I use the process to learn and simplify both the idea and the materials so that they are welcoming to many.
What currently inspires you?
My current source of hope comes from the wonderful thought that my viruses would be at the National Design and Craft Gallery till the summer.
I have just finished a two year long project on Celebrations. The project profiled Bulgarian community in Ireland arguing that growth comes from personal, geographical or professional change. It also explored boundaries of communities as they often include complex origin make up. For example in the Bulgarian community we have an American, many Irish and some Latvian and Nigerians. As I say in one of the stories- Children Day- our origin is Earth, my religion is Love, and the only politics I care for is Freedom.
At present I am working on headpieces and garments which interpret the perception of women as powerful creatures. The work has just begun. I work from a grid based ideation, followed by a lot of research- actual reading on the topic, usually scientific.
Then I do sketches. Then I do samples. Then I photograph the piece and re-do it again. Only then do I try to share it with others.
I am developing currently some pieces as embodiment of my interpretation of sin and virtues. My aim in terms of technical goal is to explore consistency of colour but create pieces that are juxtaposed in texture- solid complex sculptures and delicate textured garments. I am trying to answer the question: Why are we afraid of Virginia Wolf and could we still get away with it?
I am applying for some financial support for my work, but to be honest I would be doing it regardless of whether I receive it or not. If I believe in something, I need to get it out of my system. The journey is my necessity; the possibility to communicate it to others is a privilege and an award which I often have not been granted.
Photo Credit: Ivaylo Pretrov
apply at nikicollierdesign.com/workshops/
I am pleased to offer 3 different type of felting workshops in 2019. Please read about them below.
Felt Fridays Feb & Mar 19
Six week course introducing the magic of felt making.
Price: €56 per class / €240 for all 6 classes
||Unravelling techniques with fibres and textiles.
||Strong felt with closures and surface detail.
||Using cashmere, superfine merino and silk
Monthly classes creating fabulous felt.
Price: €110 per class
Creative fun for Children of all ages
||First Flower of spring would be made by you.
||Make your St. Patricks Parade Hat
||Make a felt egg and get a chocolate egg as a reward.
||Make your own basket and Easter Egg Hunt in the Park.