Nien Schwarz

Nien Schwarz, We must get together (some time) (2021), hand-built clays, glazes, aggregates; bisque raku and high fired. Photo Daniel Wilkins.

An ongoing project is researching ceramic glaze recipes using mineral exploration of local Bunbury Basalt volcanic lava flows that erupted 135 Ma years ago during the breakup of Gondwana; the widening rift resulting in formation of the Indian Ocean and the Indian, Australian and Antarctic shorelines. The Bunbury Basalt flows yield deep brown glazes. We must get together (some time), my installation of 100+ clay spoons, and vessels cast from many different knees, symbolise community, of paying respect to the Earth, of being grateful for every meal, and acknowledging the multiple skills and forms of energy that go into producing food that nourishes our individual and collective life force. The unbalanced nature of the bowls alludes to climatic and ecological tipping points. What we consume collectively is shaping the future of everything.

Dr Nien Schwarz is an interdisciplinary artist living near Fremantle on unceded Noongar land. Since 1981 she has cooked for geoscientists conducting fieldwork in remote regions. Geology and ecology thematically underpin her large-scale site-specific installations and public art commissions, hand-made objects made from hand-built clays, art videos, and mixed-media paintings, prints, collages, and activist wear. Her works intend to provoke consideration of human relationships to the underground. Nien recently retired from teaching environmental art at Edith Cowan University where she now holds an honorary position in the School of Arts and Humanities. She is a founding member of the Western Australian artist collective We Must Get Together Some Time and recently exhibited at Holmes a Court Gallery as part of the Indian Ocean Craft Triennial (IOTA21). Career highlights include Beyond Familiar Territory, a key visual arts feature of the Perth Arts Festival (2001), and Over My Shoulder at PICA (2006).