Gallery Holland

The villages are still below sea-level.

The villages are still below sea-level.



History of the Lowlands

The edge is my home. I was born in Zeeland , which means “sea-land”, land against the sea or sea stopped by land, land filled with water or water mudded by land, depending time of day and year. My ancestors always had both on their mind, ploughing the clay and fighting the sea to the limits of their existence. I am fascinated by the edge. In art the edge is equally fascinating. The line, the edge is the first thing we learn when we learn to draw. Learning to draw is the first thing a child learns when having something like a pencil in their hands.

More than nine hundred years ago this was not much more than a sandbar in the North sea when they started building sturdy cities like Middelburg, Reimerswaal and Zierikzee. Ancient cities flourished because of the closeness to water and the transportation of goods by sailboats from anywhere in the world. Time and again however the cities as wealthy as they were, were swept away by floods. People learned to live with it and built small hills for the churches as sacred grounds and later dikes around their cornfields and other crops. People learned to live with loss. Loss of their families and possessions.

They became a different people than the rest of Holland. More into themselves and very religious. The sorrow appeared in their clothes, their costumes. My great grandfather always wore black.

In the year 1953 the dikes were weakened because of erosion which always happened over time. World War II had eaten up all the funds for repair of the dikes which were the only protection against the water.

On night on February 1 1953 a Perfect Storm from the NW swept 2/3 of the islands away. 1800 people lost their lives.

Sweet Memory

Sweet Memory

USDollars$1500

Remembering my grandmother and how she was dressed

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The Damned

There is a lot to say about the meaning of this word as I gave it to title of the first painting reflecting the soul of my people. The word in English is more powerful than in Dutch because of its ambiguity. My folks built dikes, or dams for centuries to be protected from the water. In that sense they became the damned people; living behind dams. They closed themselves in, in an exchange for safety. The damned also means the cursed people. The water as in  Life Force could not reach them, nor damage their crop and life stock. They did not realize they cut themselves off from the same life force that was enhancing their existence and did not flow with nature anymore.

They turned to religion instead and built churches on high grounds. Faith in their God became rigid and was saturated with fear, rules and strict life style, which was expressed through their clothing. Life became a fight, a struggle, with only the promise for a better one after they died. In the many storms raging through the centuries, the seawater would raise so high that the dams broke, flooding the land, taking away animals, children and fertile soil. As much as they tried to secure their future there was always another storm to challenge their existence.

The family from my father’s side as well as my mother’s side date back to the 1400’s, always having lived in this beautiful but difficult area consisting of land and water below sea level. You can say, struggle is in my DNA by default, but it doesn’t mean I cannot change it. I want to live with the water and its flow and not do anything against it. My theory is that going against the natural way of living is going against God (or life force or whatever you want to perceive what that is)

Teaching art

Until recently I never had an art teacher. Not because I think I know everything better than anybody else; I never had the luxury. A couple of years ago I made my first painting under the supervising eye of my teacher, Käthe Ruyssenaars and something changed on a deep level. I would make a line like I did for many years and she would come with a brush and wipe off the paint halfway through. She would break the lines where ever I would make them. It was like the breaking of the dikes during the horrible flood of 1954 all over. She broke down my buildings, she wiped away my security, my existence. At first I was shocked. How could she do this to me?  I protested that a shape is defined by a line; how else can I tell my story? I felt resistance to a picture without definition. She wiped away everything I built. I felt like crying.

After the initial shock, I felt freedom. A strong sense of movement was running through my work. Something was breaking free from everything that looked to be set in stone. It felt like a breath of fresh air through a stale room. It was painful, but it was a necessity. Not long after our sessions I created a painting called Growth.  It has movement and light. It tells a story about a woman and a girl in a romantic atmosphere. Before it was finished it was sold to somebody who was not even used to buying paintings. It touched her heart, she said.

It was weird to notice that politics had also found a need to do the same. Too much cultivation was getting in the way of nature. I don’t know the details of the Hedwige polder and I don’t want this to be a political discussion, but they were literally breaking dikes and letting the water run free into the lower-lying land in 2012. On purpose.

All this is about my personal history and how it is connected to the history of The Netherlands. My paintings are deeply influenced by the landscape, the danger and the freedom; the movement in unison with the hard edges.

The Damned Begone

There is a lot to say about the meaning of this word as I gave it to title of the first painting reflecting the soul of my people. The word in English is more powerful than in Dutch because of its ambiguity.

Luctor Et Emergo

All this is about my personal history and how it is connected to the history of The Netherlands. My paintings are deeply influenced by the landscape, the danger and the freedom; the movement in unison with the hard edges.