Níamh Grimes
BA (Hons) Product Design and Craft

Ritual Jewellery

My name is Níamh Grimes and I’m an art jeweller. Predominantly, I use investment casting amongst various other jewellery processes to create wearable objects which are deeply imbued with historical and ritual narratives. I use inherited and found objects as a vehicle to preserve and reimagine stories and customs of the past. Recently, my work has explored the ways in which traditional, superstitious Irish folk customs surrounding the Otherworld can inspire the making of contemporary, ritual objects. These jewellery objects allow me to connect with my ancestors by reconceptualising the protective practices they used for generations. Metal casting, to me, feels like an alchemical method of preserving stories, beliefs and experiences which are eroding with time. In its nature, however, it reimagines these stories; the original object is destroyed, leaving behind a somewhat immortal version made from metal. When I combine this, in the final object, with an external material like an old perfume vial, a rusty iron nail from inside the walls of a crumbling house or a formation of salt crystals, I must consider how the two items meet, how they alter each other’s histories to create a new reality. Weeding through the leftovers of past lives and incorporating these historical objects into my work reconnects me with the magical thinking of the past, and turning them into wearable objects fulfils my intention of unearthing folk memories. During a time when I feared I may be losing touch with the Irish side of my heritage, my work nurtured a deeper sense of belonging. It reinforced an eternal tie between myself and the landscapes, beliefs, rituals and now absent people who came before me.

Design Award Winner