Artist Profile : Niamh McAuley

Niamh McAuley is an Irish artist who works with paint and textiles. Based in Belfast, Niamh is going into the final year of a textiles, art design and fashion degree at the University of Ulster. Throughout the course Niamh has specialised in weave. Here’s what Niamh had to say about the creative process and the impact that the lock down has had on it :

How would you describe your work?
My work is a combination of handwoven techniques; I love creating beautifully coloured and texturized pieces. I do this by using unconventional yarns or fabrics to create a weave that offers a mixture of texture and dimensions. My passion for painting also helps me further explore the surface textures and colours that inspire me the most.

What inspires you to create?
I’ve always been creative. I started with a love for painting which grew into a passion for textile designs. I became fixated with textiles during my foundation art degree, where I realised most of my observational studies and interests about my concepts had a textural quality – be it from fabric manipulation or use of mixed media to create something three dimensional. I find tactility and a beautiful use of colour very satisfying, and it always will be an essential element of my work. At the core of my inspiration is my surroundings, both the natural and man-made world provides an endless array of inspiration of colours and textures. 
I draw inspiration from the most beautiful or the most mundane of things; may it be a scratch on a wall, to a shadow of an object, the corrosion of a stone, or the rust of a metal. I think this inspiration and love of nature comes from my home town, Glenarm, situated in the Glens of Antrim, sitting along the coast and surrounded by countryside. Here I am supplied with the endless inspiration of flora and fauna along with the constantly changing colours and textures of countryside beauty. The inspiration of both man-made and natural sources also serves as a constant reminder whilst creating to make my pieces as sustainable as possible. I am constantly searching and documenting ideas through observational sketches, colour studies, photography and weave interpretations.

What makes your art ‘yours’?
One of the central values I have as a designer is to create one of a kind statement pieces that has as little impact on the environment as possible. I achieve this by using dead stock yarns and pre-owned fabrics, and weaving them into up-cycled fabrics and structures. I gather objects and incorporate them into my designs, such as rope or plastic found on a beach. Weaving these objects alongside yarn creates a beautiful quality. 

What impact has the lock down had on you and your work ?
I have a part time job in a shop, being a key worker I am self-isolating alone away from my friends and family. It is hard but my craft is helping me focus on something that I love, which helps decrease the natural anxieties that come in these uncertain times. I find creating helps me escape the worry of the unknown during this ‘strange’ time, as painting and designing is very therapeutic and helps me keep positive. These unprecedented times are forcing me to push my creative boundaries as art supplies are running low, however this is what I find the most exciting – just being a little more crafty and using materials found around the house. I cut up an old pair of jeans to weave together. This up-cycling of textiles and yarns found by chance  gives my work a true sense of spontaneity and fun. I hope a solution will be found soon for the virus and that we can all get back to normality in the near future. Until then, I hope to spread some positivity with my designs on my social media platform.

You can keep up to date with Niamh’s art here


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