Press Release | 4th of January 2023 | wrt

Science Gallery Initiative at TU Berlin announces Niamh Schmidtke as Artist in Residence

Collaboration with the University´s Mineralogical Collections

The Science Gallery Initiative at Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) announces Irish-Swedish visual artist, Niamh Schmidtke, as the winner of the third edition of the “Earth Water Sky” research residency funded by the Swiss foundation Fondation Didier et Martine Primat as the main donor. This residency program is dedicated to reward artistic research around the major environmental issues of the 21st century. While its first two residencies “Water” and “Sky” took place at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, the third will be held at the Mineralogical Collections of TU Berlin: “Earth” will have a specific focus on the geology of the planet and the concept of geologic time scales, also known as “deep time”. Artist Niamh Schmidtke will be working with the mineralogist Dr Johannes Giebel, the custodian of the collections.

The two-month “Earth” research residency will start in early 2023 and will be followed by commissioning and production of new art work inspired and informed by the research. The jury for the residency, led by the Anglo-American-Dutch curator and producer of the programme, Ariane Koek, was unanimous in their decision in awarding it to Niamh Schmidtke – recognising the originality of Niamh Schmidtke’s proposal in connection to the open call topic, geological time, and their plans of multi-layered engagement with the students at TU Berlin in the making of the work.

Breaking down the binaries between nature and culture

The jury stated: “In this time of our global climate emergency, the 25-year-old Irish-Swedish artist Niamh Schmidtke impressed us all with the integrity, focus and originality of their work and practice which matches their commitment to ecology and breaking down the binaries between nature and culture. The jury found Schmidtke’s proposal ‘Pulling Blood from a Stone' truly compelling, with its idea of giving voice to geology and deep time in a multiplicity of artistic modalities including radio, experiments with different materials and ways of making, including writing and ceramics, combined with their inclusion of the students at TU Berlin in their research. This proposal, combined with Niamh Schmidtke’s curiosity and obvious fascination with minerals and the collections of TU Berlin, as well as with their critical investigations of the limits of eco-nationalism and finance, are both timely and critical in the era we now find ourselves living in.”

Interdisciplinary collaboration between science and art at TU Berlin

Dr Kerstin Wagner, Director of Science Gallery initiative at TU Berlin, added: “Science Gallery Berlin is delighted to welcome artist Niamh Schmidtke to our Earth residency programme and we look forward to their resulting work and research with Dr Johannes Giebel, which supports our ongoing commitment to promoting interdisciplinary collaboration between science and art at TU Berlin and facilitating critical conversations on environmental issues between scholars, artists, researchers and the public.” Dr Johannes Giebel, mineralogist and custodian of the Mineralogical Collections at TU Berlin, one of the largest university mineral collections in Germany that comprises over 200,000 specimens, said: “We are excited about Niamh Schmidtke’s residency plans, and look forward to their artistic perspective on our collections and the mutual exchange.” He added: “The concept of ‘deep time’ that they will explore has a philosophical origin and although it is rarely used in earth science, every geo-scientist knows what is meant by it: the span of geological ages that is intangible to us. For every mineral in our collection, whether it comes from the ocean floor or a mountain top, its length of stay in our collection, indeed the entire history of mankind, is but a blink of an eye compared to the time that passed after it was formed.”

Kick Off Talk about the "Earth" Residency with Niamh Schmidtke, Johannes Giebel and Ariane Koek (curator of the artist-in-residence programme "Earth Water Sky")

Thursday, 19.01.2023 at 12:15 p.m. at UNI_VERSUM (in the foyer of the main building of TU Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 135)

Residencies “Water” 2019 and “Sky” 2021

During her residency “Water” in 2019 at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, British visual artist Emma Critchley created an evocative three-screen film installation making the link between the human body and the body of ice known as a glacier through movement, words and images. At the same university, US-artist Haseeb Ahmed combined sculpture, architecture, performance and film to approach the theme of wind in 2021.

Further information

About the 2022 Earth Water Sky Jury

The 2022 Earth Water Sky Jury was comprised of: Dr Kerstin Wagner, Director of Science Gallery initiative at Technische Universität Berlin; Dr Michael Fowler, Coordinator of the Science Gallery initiative at Technische Universität Berlin; the Martine et Didier Primat Foundation represented by the General Secretary Peggy Herrmann-Ljubicic and collection manager Stéphanie Duval;  Dr Johannes Giebel, mineralogist and custodian of the Mineralogical Collections and Museum at Technische Universität Berlin; Lucia Pietroiusti, independent curator of art, ecology, and systems, usually outside of the gallery forma and founding curator of General Ecology at the Serpentine Galleries, London; and Ariane Koek, Creative Producer/Curator of Earth Water Sky environmental arts and science residency programme

About Fondation Didier et Martine Primat

The three-year programme is fully funded by Fondation Didier et Martine Primat - a Swiss-based foundation.  The Didier and Martine Primat Foundation raises awareness among populations and public authorities of planetary issues related to human activities and contributes to shaping a more responsible world by supporting educational projects and concrete actions encouraging the emergence of conscious and sustainable lifestyles.

About the Science Gallery Network

Science Gallery is the world’s only university member network dedicated to public engagement with science and art. The Science Gallery Network consists of leading universities united around a singular mission: to ignite creativity and discovery where science and art collide. Bringing science, art, technology and design together, Science Gallery delivers unique, transdisciplinary exhibitions, events and educational programs that engage millions of curious and inquiring minds every year in connective, participative, and surprising ways.


Rani Sheilagh Dunn

Head of Global Brand and Communications Science Gallery International

+35 38 72 93 65 08