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Saturday, June 22, 2019

My Egg. Do not Sit

My Egg. Do not Sit. 

A sculpture in International Exhibition

My Egg. Held by a Male.
Photo: Ivaylo Petrov
One of my sculptures: My Egg. Do not Sit! is going to an international exhibition in Finland.

The work is a textile sculpture of a human egg in the process of fertilisation. It contributes to the debate about ownership, choice and human rights. Who owns a woman’s egg? The complex multi-layered textile sculpture is informed by a microscopic photo of a human egg. It is built through both solid and hollow shapes that are intertwined together. The sculpture uses warm colours associated with beginnings and round shapes both as negative and positive spaces and shapes in various textile making methods: shibori, lace, nunofelt and solid felt. Colour, shape and method unite to further emphasise the depth and complexity of the arguments the piece embodies. The artist’s stance is expressed in the mount. It looks like a vessel, in this case- a chair, but the artist’s instructions are clear. It is mine and I do not give you my consent to use it in this way. It is Not Your Vessel. The owner has expressed their desire. It is also made delicately so that you cannot actually sit on it. You will break it if you do.

Still, the choice stays with you.

The choice of materials in developing the piece was also reflective of the complex history that women have with reproduction and birth. It is a considered selection of merino wool, silk fibres, the staple of any felting texture. Then in the nuno felt I have embodied knit mohair from a friend that knits many wraps for new mums. and vintage silk from my grandmother as well as Russian silk from mum who had experience a really scary childbirth with me. There is Blueface Leicester fibres as they are the foundation and ever lasting presence in all my core work. And a bit of a raw and hairy fibre from a the dog of a friend. She shared with me a story of her miscarriage and I asked her if it would be ok to use the fibre from her best friend , her dog.  And as it is always in this situations I have used a handful of fibres that are from a sheep whose name I know and whose owner is a friend of mine.

The piece looked impossible to make as with its complex structure took a while to digest from the microscopic photos I have seen to the 3d object I have developed. I have tried it in several sizes and also experimented with various ways to incorporate the complex shapes and textures. It took half an year to develop the prototype. And I have discussed it with several mentors.

Please note that in the next photo I am wearing the One Hat. The one hat always come out when we are at a cross roads and need to make a hard choice. A choice that might make us grow out of our comfort zone or our understanding of what is right to us, might not be right to others.

Pulling Fibres
Photo: Simon O'Pappon
The most insightful conversation was with Marjolein Dallinga who gave me a generous insight into the connection between fibre authenticity and structure.

I have also discussed it with Brigitta Varadi at its early development as I needed insight of developing a mounting that would reflect the message consistently.

The positive and insightful feedback that I have received from my mentors enabled me to work further in the direction of creating the work.

The exhibition is a collaboration between Feltmakers Ireland and Finnish Feltmakers Association.

The call out was for ‘A touch of Red’ pieces that interpret the colour or the concept in the pieces developed for consideration of the judging panel.

The exhibition runs from 1st July to 4th in Jämsä, Finland

The gallery is an old bank building overt two floors in the town centre.

Feltmakers Ireland is the national organization with members throughout Ireland. It supports work in felt to both amateur and professional crafts people.

My Egg. Held by me
Photographer: Beta Bagjgart
I was so glad that my work was selected for this exhibition- it is such a core story in my practice.

Monday, May 6, 2019

St George is a Saint to Many

St George 6th May A story from Celebrations

The search for the St George story started with what are my demons? 
What would be the dragon that we all want to slaughter? 
What is our biggest fear?

For centuries the answer to this question would have been- bad health. So for me the story became the ritual of killing all illnesses with one heroic gesture. The dragons in this story are viruses. So the story is sculptures of the viruses slaughtered by a doctor. Viruses as living organisms are still both a challenge and a mystery regardless of our scientific advances. Doctors as part of the current perception of ''The Establishment'' are often held hostage to our perception of them being heroes rather than humans.  Here the concept of small and significant are juxtaposed using scientific concepts to mirror our own fears. As viruses are necessary ingredient to life on our planet the destruction of them explores what is an act of heroism and an act of fear? The interrelation between personal fears - our vulnerability and how they influence macro decisions related to health and life.  It is also a dialogue of what makes an object beautiful to us- its form or its function?
The rest of the art work is a metro style deconstructed top, a scarf of red blood cells and a red belt- to show the red cross that stands on the St. George's shield.

George is a student of medicine from Trinity College Dublin. He came for a fitting and we straight away fell for his Dr Mike type of charm and good looks. He was a wonderful model- generous with his time, beautiful and graceful. I asked him how he describes himself as he has been living in Ireland since he was 10 - longer here, than in Bulgaria and has been through many formative experiences here. Among a group from the Bulgarian community his answer was : ''Bulgarian'', but I wonder... His girlfriend is Irish, and I am not sure he had plans to be living in Bulgaria any time soon. 

The story of St. George sparked up most conversations during the showing of the exhibition. It seems that it is transient  with who ''owes'' St. George. Obviously the first problem I encountered were certain Irish friends- why would I dare to include the ''English'' saint in the Celebrations? Trying to discuss that he is Not English, was a long conversation, but at least not as hard one as the one I had with some Bulgarians when I explained that St. George is celebrated by the Roma community in Bulgaria and he was born a Jew. As for most Bulgarians St George is the saint of the Army.
Eventually, I realised that in many ways St. George stands for the male privilege culture which sees treat where none is meant.  

My hope, with his cross and the die hard attitude maybe we would soon start accepting him for one of the worriers of healing.

Celebrations profiles the evolving makeup of community through change - geographical, cultural and personal. Each festival and custom is reflected and manifested in a combination of felt art and photography. The models are members of the Bulgarian community- each has a personal connection to the celebration they represent.

Celebrations is Niki Collier’s response to our fear of change. Her felt artwork is created to send us a positive message of growth, change and strength. It is her act to shift our personal and collective boundaries towards empathy and acceptance.
Niki Collier is an award-winning visual artist and designer based in Dublin. Her work is regularly exhibited in curated exhibitions and design shops around the world.
Ivo Petrov is a photographer based in Kildare.
The project was commissioned for the Bulgarian Presidency of EU.
It was made possible with the generous support of the Bulgarian Embassy in Ireland; Dublin Culture Company; Popovo Municipality, Bulgaria; the Arts Office, Ballyfermot; BECA and various private sponsors.

This year Celebrations is going to be at Airfield Estate from 16th April to 7th May. 
Come and see the wonderful Woolplaza Festival on the 5th and 6th May.
I would be doing a great celection of events:
Take your photo  with a statement hat
Come and make a farm animal.
Or just chill in our Outside In and Inside Out interactive exhibition.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Year Resolutions - A cautious plan for learning

A dream is not a plan, but every plan starts with a dream.

My New Year starts with a resolution.
I am going out of my comfort zone.
First step— making this a regular blog.

It is a look into what I do and how I do it. And just like that I talk about my dreams. 
My dream -(plan) to share my studio experience so I get to show you the wonderful people I meet and the ins and outs of my studio life. I am a bit apprehensive - too many too often turn blogging into unexamined reality where crazy meets stupid. So my every sentence would be attempt to stay away from alternative facts, examine my opinions and share success and failure with gumption and honest account of my shortcomings. 
This is a place to grow.
And I honestly believe that growth is possible only when we are honest.
This month is a good one for that- with Showcase looming in the third week of January it is always a scary way to open up my year. Showcase is an annual event at the RDS Dublin where creative industries showcase new and successful creations to community that supports and develops our practices – buyers, media and press, influencers, creative communities. It is also a great way to meet your mentors, folks that you love and a place to examine whether what you do is still relevant and meaningful. Because there are always a few new kids on the block.

Showcase, if you do it as you should, needs to come from a place of meticulous planning and coaxing of folk and institutions as far as an year in advance. So once you are there your success comes as a surprise to others but as a total relief to you. Full disclosure, I do not have the best habits for Showcase set up - I let my creativity take the better of me.  I fire a few invites the week before, print complex brochures the day on the show and build complicated set ups which leaves myself and my husband on none speaking terms with at least one of us is bleeding from clumsy DIY endeavors. To top all this my special needs girl is usually either in A&E or in hospital at the time. 

My best Showcase to date was the one I did not do it. I did not book a stand, I did not print new brochures, I did not create complex packaging solutions or displays. I just fired up an e-mail to my most precious buyers: '' could I meet them somewhere if they are coming''. Thankfully, they said yes. So the year I did not do it I met my buyers in the buyers lounge, had free coffee, courtesy of the unaware organisers and made twice the amount you pay to participate. 

And yet. I am there every year bar one. I won't lie to you- it is the event that scares me most. One year I thought I would not be able to pick myself up from the bottom of the stairs where I end up the day after it finishes. But I go with various success I overcome my fear of failure and go. The strength to do it comes from my hope that people would see my work for what it is- honest, uncompromising and always developing.  So I go and do it.  And the event that has given me most. I met British Museum at it. I met my best international buyer at it. I have made some of the most meaningful friendships at it. 

This year I am doing it. I am going for a minimalist display and bringing just four collections- two of the evergreen classics and my personal best achievement- the first Irish felt. Made from the fibres that create Irish tweed and inspired by Irish landscape this collection is personal to me. So with great fear and huge plans to change my practice I am getting ready for it. Keeping fingers crossed while I put finishing touches onto product and press pieces. I would put focus on spring cleaning my website as it needs to communicate my passion and effort in a more inviting manner. So check it out at

Hope it is a good show- I have invested so much in my creative work - I hope that people see that what I lack in planning I make up in hard work and imagination.

Here is to hope. And as we say: ''May we have a great show!''

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Happy 1st March !

Every year, it is a Bulgarian tradition on the 1st of March, the month marking the spring awakening, to adorn our chests with a red & white wool brooch, which we Bulgarians call martenitsa. Through the centuries this art, but a handful of wool, has been handcrafted in various forms and shapes, but always using red & white wool. The white represents our wish for long life and the red our wish for good health. Martenitsa is not just a strong symbol of Bulgarian identity,but has become part of Unesco heritage. It is invariably one of the first presents that we share with friends of Bulgaria. As Irish would have it, there is an Irish story about martenitsa. It is a love story.

The Artist’s Take

The art pieces look into the science of love; endorphins and dopamine are first released by those who click. In the Bulgarian tradition of martenitsa-making, the white represents the female hence Svetlana has a white cape and carries a hat sculptured with white blood cells. Arnie wears a hat sculptured with red blood cells and has a red cape. Their hands are connected by a long piece of rope which is a sculpture of endorphins. The inspiration for the art pieces in this look comes from the pursuit of understanding love at first sight an intricate connection that bursts in a moment and could last a lifetime.
Svetlana and Arnie Hensman
The Hensman family lives in Dublin and have three children and two cats. They have been married for 15 years. Arnie‘s dad is American and his mum is Irish. Svetlana, originally from Varna, Bulgaria came here almost 20 years ago to pursue an academic career. Their first connection was when Svetlana gave Arnie a martentitsa on the 1st of March. At their wedding reception, Arnie had a word of caution to all guests: ‘‘If a Bulgarian girl gives you a matrenitsa, be warned that you might end up getting hitched one day. Just like us!’’ Svetlana, Arnie and their children Daniela, Christopher and Alex all celebrate Martenitsa Day by giving martenitsa-making workshops in the children’s school. Perhaps it is in the hope that there is another couple somewhere that might find their own love by such an exchange.


The work profiles the evolving make up of a community through geographical, cultural and personal change. The artistic conversation is how festivals and customs reflect and manifest this.
The models in each visual narrative are authentic members of the Bulgarian community. They are selected on the basis of their personal connection to a festival, holiday or custom.
For each scene the artwork in felt is purposely created by Niki to reflect the message about growth, change and strength which is connecting to others. It is a research into what shifts our personal and collective boundaries of empathy, acceptance and strength.

This is a collaborative project between Niki Collier- an award winning visual artist and designer based in Dublin and Ivaylo Petrov a photographer from the Bulgarian community based in Kildare.