Linda van Niekerk

Linda van Niekerk's desire is to create simple sculptural pieces that encourage the wearer to be bold, proud and walk tall. In this profile, Linda describes her interests, her inspiration and her processes. 

Which artists have influenced you, and how? I think that my jewellery making has been influenced more by cultural heritages than particular artists. I was born in South Africa and immigrated to Australia. I have always loved large African carvings and jewellery - and upon visiting Morocco long after I had left South Africa, I was struck by a sense of deep familiarity - a deep sense of my African heritage. It was here that I collected my first 'African Amber' beads. I also greatly admire the paintings of Aboriginal artists like Dorothy Napangardi, Gloria Petyarre and Barbara Weir. For me, both cultures influence my desire for bold, simple expression that lifts the spirit.

Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? My partner's passion for his chosen profession, architecture, has greatly influenced my appreciation of all aspects of design. We are both drawn to the beauty of simple structures in mud and reeds constructed by so-called 'primitive' people as well as the elegance of early Modernism. Although I do not see the need for rigidity in applying design 'rules' I do find myself attempting to make my work as simple and fluid as possible - irrespective of the idea I wish to convey. I also believe that it should sit well on the body.

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? I look outside my window. I am lucky enough to live and work in the Huon Valley in Tasmania. One third of Tasmania is a world heritage area. Living and working in this beautiful part of the world encourages contemplation of the natural world in all its forms and this influences not only the ideas in my work but also the shapes and some of the materials that I use.

Three words that best describe your work? Bold, simple, wearable

How would you describe your process? I exhibit as much as possible. Working towards an exhibition is the best way I know to stimulate new ideas and motivate myself to keep pushing just that bit further. Although I make scribbles of ideas sparked by the initial inspiration, actually working with the materials and continual experimentation with form and fit are more important to me than drawings. And I use myself to test the fit on the body. I believe that my jewellery should be an authentic expression of my own design standards. If I wouldn't wear it, I won't make it.

Is there anyone you dream of collaborating/working with? I am lucky enough to already collaborate and work with very talented people. Indispensable to the work that I make are talented craftspeople who contribute to the 'components' that I use - like Tasmanian master wood turners and stonecutters, creators of custom fittings and findings as well as long gone craftspeople that handmade beads from materials like amber, stone and shell for trading in Africa.

View Linda van Niekerk's work here.