By travelling to Oslo, Norway and completing extensive interviews and spending several days alongside the artist Louise Nippierd I was able to gain primary research, experiencing firsthand, her lifestyle and works of art.
When we consider jewellery the majority of us would imagine delicate pieces of silver or beautiful gems. But there is a new generation of jewellery artists producing unusual pieces using materials you would never think of wearing. One such artist from this new generation i Louise Nippierd, "the metal artist".
Using aluminium Nippierd produces fascinating and exotic pieces of work, be it jewellery or sculpture. Nippierd aims to reflect the issues that surround marginalized people such as homosexuality, racism and eating disorders. Producing pieces that have a very close gap between sculpture and jewellery she uses scale an colour to attract her audience.
Born in Alverstoke, Hampshire and moving to Norway with her family when she was five Louise Nippierd lead a relatively normal upbringing. Her father in the Royal Navy, her mother a journalist and being surrounded by three other siblings. But being bond in England has meant that Nippierd has always felt like an outsider looking in, having to learn the language and fit in has been a major aspect of her life. Stemming from her childhood feelings of insecurity is something that has carried on in her life today and she feels is the reasoning behind her exploration into the lives of marginal people. As she herself says "I have a soft spot for these people", feeling she has some kind of personal understanding of what these people encounter.
Entering the art world only 11 years ago Louise Nippierd is relatively new in the art circle for her age. Although she has always been interested in textiles and jewellery it was not until late 1993 when she first became introduced to the material of aluminium. In her previous career, she worked as an occupational therapist teaching geriatric patients painting, weaving, pottery etc. Although this work was challenging she felt she hadn't fulfilled her full potential and had a need to learn a new skill. It was her interest in textiles and jewellery that turned Nippierd towards the jewellery world an as she herself says "I could never find anything big an weird enough for me", so she pursued her desire to create the weird and wonderful.
After studying for five years and attaining her BA and Masters in Jewellery at The National College of Art and Design in Oslo Nippierd went on creating her work in her own studio to for many exhibitions an commissions. But she i still a regular visitor at the college delivering on the process of anodising. A process she often utilises in much of her work, creating exotically colourful pieces.
The use of aluminium in Nippierd's work there is a reflection on marginalized groups, and in particular I am fascinated with her pieces based on eating disorders. Louise Nippierd has always been conscious that women around her are being careful how much they eat an says she "doesn't know any women who hasn't been on a diet in some time in their life" and she too feels she has a very "unrelaxed relationship with food".
The fashion industry plays a huge part in the portrayal of woman's figures an for this reason Nippierd never buys fashion magazines; "it gives me an instant complex, I hate all that fashion crap". If this is how a thirty-nine year old woman can feel, no wonder it is affecting younger women, more easily influenced.
The torture and suffering that women incur as a result of eating disorders is echoed in pieces such as "Hungry heart" and Delightful Deliverance", were we see these beautifully curved sculptures covering the sexuality of the women and actually spiking into the model, representing the pain and almost unfeminine image that is often gained with eating disorders. it is almost as if Nippierd is aiming to shield the body, with her works acting like armour.
Eating disorders take over peoples lives an in "Rigid Renouncement" there is an obvious connection with the feelings felt by anorexic people; being trapped in their world an body and not being able to communicate their feelings to the outside world. in this sculptured piece there is a real mathematical feel with the perfect squares an precise spikes, symbolizing the anorexics need for control an rigidity. This control of the intake of food is represented in "Coveting Consolation" and "Earnest Expectations" were we see the spikes of these head pieces too act like shields as if to hide the victims emotions.
Being brought up to be a "good girl" is something that many of us face in growing up, feeling you have to suppress your anger and not show your feelings, these feelings of having to camouflage yourself is apparent in much of Nippierd's work. Not that she agrees with this, more that she wishes to make an awareness.
While Nippierd's homosexuality pieces are designed to stand out in a crowd with colour and flamboyance, I feel her eating disorder work is only designed to create awareness of feelings she sympathises with.
In a time when eating disorders are on the increase in younger and younger women and also men, I believe there is a real need for awareness. Perhaps interpretation through art is the way forward.
By Sarah Butler