Martha Nieuwenhuijs born in Amsterdam, spent her early years in Paris and then moved to Turin - Italy in 1966, where she attained a university degree in political sciences and where she currently lives and works. In 1973 she began to experiment with Fiber Art creating wall hangings in mixed techniques and promoting Fiber Art in Italy where it was practically unknown.
Her current research focuses on painting and making artist's books. Her interest in shared art led her to realise with the painter Claudio Jaccarino two series of artists' books, Metamorfosi (2004) and Sguardi (2005), and the exhibition Incontri (2005) with the artist calligraphist Chen Li. Her works have been on show in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland Spain, Switzerland.
In 1998 she founded the International Biennial of Fiber Art "Trame d'autore" in Chieri (Turin), where she was invited to exhibit her "white works" made during 1993-1998, in the solo exhibition Incontri Monografici d'artista (catalogue with critical essay by Piero Simondo).The Chieri Civic collection of Fiber art, now endowed with more than 80 works of international artists , started after she donated her work The crowd to the city. In the early nineties the artist created jewellery with the lost wax casting technique, the so called Con-Fusioni d'artista, a series of thirty small wearable sculptures realized during the years 1994-2004. Between 2001-2004 she created Metamorphosis, a project inspired by major concerns of our time particularly by the transformations undergone by both the environment and human life in moments of crisis. The large-sized mixed-techniques works were exhibited in collaboration with the sculptor and performer Rudi Punzo under the aegis of the town of Collegno (Turin) in 2004.
Fiber art is a style of fine art which uses textiles such as fabric, yarn, and natural and synthetic fibers. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labour involved as part of its significance.
Traditionally fiber is taken from plants or animals, for example cotton from cotton seed pods, linen from flax stems, wool from sheep hair, or silk from the spun cocoons of silkworms. In addition to these traditional materials, synthetic materials such as plastic acrylic are now used.
In order for the fiber to be made into cloth or clothing, it must be spun or twisted into a strand known as yarn. When the yarn is ready and dyed for use it can be made into cloth in a number of ways. Knitting and crochet are common methods of twisting and shaping the yarn into garments or fabric. The most common use of yarn to make cloth is weaving. In weaving, the yarn is wrapped on a frame called a loom and pulled taut vertically. This is known as the warp. Then another strand of yarn is worked back and forth wrapping over and under the warp. This wrapped yarn is called the weft. Most art and commercial textiles are made by this process. For centuries weaving has been the way to produce clothes. In some cultures, weaving forms demonstrate social status. The more intricate the weaving, the higher the status. Certain symbols and colors also allowed identification of class and position. For example, in the ancient Incan civilization, black and white designs indicated a military status.
In Europe between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries woven pieces called "tapestries" took the place of paintings on walls. The Unicorn in Captivity is part of a series consisting of seven tapestry panels known as The Hunt of the Unicorn by Franco Flemish from this time period. Much of the art at the time in history was used to tell common folktales that also had a religious theme.