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Writings  by Nien

Migrations, 1999


The final chapter of my PhD exegesis describes the creation of Mygrations, a 4m2 collage made from ocean maps. Mygrations the collage is inseparable from Migrations, the piece of creative writing and illustrated story that I share below. In the written version I begin by visiting the collage the morning after my exhibition Beyond Familiar Territory opened at the Canberra Museum & Gallery in February 1999. More

Polar bear, Near Goose Bay

The world in a tea towel: Weaving cartographic abstractions   - Nien Schwarz 

Published Sept 1 in Garland Magazine


On the 11th step going upstairs my eyes come level with the heddles. And then there she is, in full view, occupying centre stage in my studio. It's my 80cm 4-shaft 1970s second-hand Finnish-made table loom. I've had it for twelve months. I purchased it from Gumtree, sight unseen. It had been disassembled and reassembled, but incorrectly. During lockdown I tinkered, a lot, figuring out myself its correct assembly.  More

Get a Grip (detail)

left: Carnabys Starving 2021

centre: Forest felling 2021

right: I am hurting 2021

organic cotton linen,

reflective sew on fabric tape,

printed satin care ag, printed card

We must get together (some time)

Printed in The Journal of Australian Ceramics (JAC) 60:2 July 2021   - Nien Schwarz

As an artist harbouring a life-long fascination with ceramics it is only now, in my late fifties, that a deeply meaningful relationship with clay has emerged. Why?


During my undergraduate studies clay was invisible; ceramics, deemed craft, was not offered. I subsequently taught contemporary sculpture and environmental art at the tertiary level for twenty years, but the year I commenced teaching visual arts the art school's ceramics studio was closed, permanently. Not an uncommon occurrence in Australia. More

Spoon study (detail) 2020

Fremantle Arts Centre Ceramics Studio residency

Dialogues with Landscape 

Launch of UWA centenary celebration and Perth Festival

By Nien Schwarz

Title of work: Radicle (L. radix, root)

Like many people I am grateful for invitations to come and experience the research of UWA staff, students, and visiting scholars, and, for me particularly, pertaining to art, Earth science, politics, anthropology and ecology. George Seddon’s book Sense of place and Stephen Hopper’s research into Western Australia’s Gondwana biodiversity hotspots have been particularly inspiring.  More

Spoon study (detail) 2020

Fremantle Arts Centre Ceramics Studio residency

Promised Land

The Church Gallery

Perth International Arts Festival 2001

In the bush my body, without the comforts of home and shops, my body is engaging constantly with the ground – the Earth’s contours, colours, textures, and materials – even as I sleep. Years later I can feel the deep satisfaction of curling up on a sun-drenched patch of moss, with a large granite boulder at my back keeping the bit of the arctic wind at bay. Sometimes I stay tucked away for hours and quietly absorb the movements, sounds and scents of a passing day – in a place where there is no night – all day clouds, insects, Peregrine Falcons, Rough Legged Hawks, caribou, pink wooly lousewort flowers up close, rivulets of melting ice. Wind, warmth, wind warmth. More


Palimpsest, Promised Land

Field work

The Wonderer

“We spend our lives hurrying away from the real, as though it were deadly to us. ‘It must be up there somewhere on the horizon,’ we think. And all the time it is in the soil, right beneath our feet.” (Logan, 1995)

Coming here from Canada in 1994 as a postgraduate arts student, one of the first things I remember about Australian television was the SBS promo “The world is an amazing place”. I believed then, as I do now, that the Earth deserves far more respect, and in my new capacity as an educator at ECU I added the SBS promo as a by-line to my email signature, and also to the cover pages of my teaching plans. I included small graphic symbols of Earth observed from various hemispherical perspectives, prompts to consider learning as a holistic life-long journey, well beyond the classroom. More

 At Laeanas Breath Cave

on the Nullarbor Plain, 2012, Photographer Michael Wingate


Backbone is a series of linear assemblages using plaid flannel shirts ranging from 50 to 125 in number.  Hung by the collars, side-by-side at chest height, and running corner-to-corner of the room, these dense horizontal fields of colour push against architectural boundaries. Walking the length of the work is like a kaleidoscope of tumbling geometric patterns and colours.  More

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