March 28, 2012

Understanding is a relation between the knower and an object of understanding

"Without Place–Without Time–Without Body" by Wolfgang Laib, 2007

I'm celebrating my 5 year anniversary of my ricecarpets this year. Next to writing posts about Temporary art with the focus on temporary carpets, I would like to make some special projects with my ricecarpets this year. Writing and working on that, I like to start this post with a work by Wolfgang Laib. I never really understood his work until recently. I remember seeing this square on the floor of a museum made of yellow pollen. In the next room a movie was projected showing Wolfgang Laib walking in a field of yellow flowers collecting the pollen by hand. I was only thinking: 'man, what a lot of work for such a small square of pollen".

"Wolfgang Laib studied medicine in the 1970s in Tübingen. From early on he had been interested in art, foreign cultures and eastern philosophies such as Zen Buddhism and Taoism, but also for the mystics of the European middle ages.
His work may be grouped with Land Art and he shows influences of Minimalism. He employs natural materials, such as beeswax and rice. Most notable is his use of large quantities of intense, yellow pollen that he collects by hand, then spreads over large areas of floor or piles to conical heaps...
Laib considers nature as something to be experienced through the senses, but not the goal of his work; it is rather a space for activity and contemplation to point towards larger contexts."
- From Wikipedia

I know better now, and I really like this work, and what a great, strong title, "Without Place–Without Time–Without Body". And I'm just a sucker for works with rice!

In 2007 I made my first ricecarpet called "Ricebird'. I woke up one morning with the idea of feeding the birds in my garden on a way that it would also look good for me. So instead of throwing a hand full of rice on the grass I used a template and made flowers. Monday I made a new "Ricebird" to celebrate that 5 years ago, when the Forsythia was blossoming, I had the idea for my first ricecarpet. Lucky me I have a garden now with a Forsythia and my new neighbors also think I'm a bit crazy.

In 2007 my nextdoor neighbors only bother to open the window upstairs and point her finger towards her forehead. At that moment I thought it was very odd she did that, not realizing I was the one creating flowers of rice in my backyard. Later in 2007 someone throw a raw egg towards my ricecarpet. The people living there told me that the neighbors didn't like people nosing around and that they were angry that they joined this art-route. I can't understand why people get so upset about something so peaceful.
The response of the neighbors now was a little better, more curious than upset or angry, or better said more nosey.

When I first saw Wolfgang Laib's work my response wasn't any better. But it left an impression on me. I'm happy that no matter what my neighbors might think, I learned to create what is in my head and heart. And I'm happy that I have been doing so for the last 5 years!

"Ricebird", 2007

"Ricebird #2", 2007

"Ricebird #3", 2012

More about Wolfgang Laib's 'Without Place–Without Time–Without Body' on

March 27, 2012

Vlisco in Helmond

Visited Helmond last Wednesday with my mom to see the Gouden Boekjes exhibition. Because we where in Helmond I had to finally visit the Vlisco shop. Meeting my mom in Helmond I walked right towards Vlisco. I spotted this billboard with the blue sky above it and couldn't wait to see some real Vlisco Batiks!


"Girls in the textile factory", 1942-1970, by Vladimir Ilich Panteleev at Gemeentemuseum Helmond*

Vlisco shop in Helmond

Beautiful combination of red and orange-yellow

Vlisco shop

After the exhibition we headed towards Vlisco. When we found the shop I asked if I could make some pictures, having my blog in mind, and I could. I fell in love with two fabrics both with birds on them. I regret that I'm not handy with fabric, because what to do with the whole 6 yards if I can't make anything with it..
Good thing there is also Jansen in Helmond. This store has Vlisco, African Batiks and left over pieces of fabric. I found one of my bird favorites between the big pile of Batiks. Beautiful to see al this colours in one big mix together and I have my own 'Real Dutch Java Print' Vlisco now! At least a part of it :).

Looking with my mom for a smaller Vlisco at Jansen

Loved the Vlisco shop. How the Batiks are displayed and the mannequins in the great Batik creations. My mom bought me this book about Johan Jacobs. One of the first designers of Vlisco. I'm preparing for a post about him, but as always it unravels a big story including the Arts-and-Crafts movement of William Morris, the Dutch "Nieuwe Kunst" Art Nouveau group, Klimt's Symbolism and Van Gogh Japonism. And as always greatly connected to the development of Batik Belanda in Pekalongan, Indonesia. So I first have to read some more and get back to you when I have a clearer story to tell.

More about Vlisco and to shop online go to

To see more Vlisco Batiks, visit the exhibition "Six Yards Guaranteed Dutch Design" at MMKA in Arnhem (till the 7th May). An exhibition about how Vlisco’s Dutch textiles became a part of various West African cultures and found their way into international fashion, the visual arts, and photography. The exhibition Six Yards is a tribute to Vlisco textiles: over a hundred years old, born in Indonesia, designed in the Netherlands, loved in Africa, and desired in the West. A real must see. I'm going end this month, looking forward to it!

* correction on 10/2/2018,  I had a wrong date/year mentioned at this painting, see more information in Dutch here:

March 5, 2012

Difficult Time

"Difficult Time", acrylic on paper, 2011

Spring is in the air, it's time to get busy in the garden and start growing sunflowers! Last year we moved from an apartment to a house with garden. I was (and still am) so happy to be back on the ground again, watching birds and putting my hands in the dirt. I started a new work in December of 2010, but it developed very slow. My subject for it literally had to grow. I had so many doubts while making this work. Every pattern I added was followed by weeks of thinking. I photographed birds in my garden for days. Made a path of left-over sunflowerseeds (from Dance in a ricecarpet) to get better images. I cultivated Sunflowers and had to wait months before they reached the right frame.
It took me a year to make my painting for a Pagi-Sore Batik design (Day-Night Batik). It was a tense year in which a lot happened.

Detail of nightside "Difficult Time"

Detail of nightside "Difficult Time"

Detail of nightside "Difficult Time"

I named the Batik 'Difficult Time'. A reference to the Pagi-Sore Batiks I based my design on.
The Japanese Empire occupied Indonesia, known then as the Dutch East Indies, during World War II from March 1942 until after the end of War in 1945. The period was one of the most critical in Indonesian history.
During this period Hokokai batiks were made. Hokokai is also called 'Difficult time'. *The batiks were commissioned by and created for the Japanese market during their occupation of Indonesia. Workers from the top batik workshops which had been taken over by the Japanese made batik to maximize the dwindled supply of materials (cotton and dyes). They drew and dyed motifs favoured by the Japanese such as butterflies, cherry blossoms and birds. These batiks had as many as seven colours and every available space on the cloth was filled with the minutest isen motifs (filling in the left over space between bigger motifs with a smaller motif). These batiks are often too rich to digest at close range, but they are an extraordinary visual spectacle when viewed fro a distance. Almost all Hokokai batik was made in Pekalongan in the Pagi-Sore format.*

**The batikworkshop of famous Batikmaker Eliza van Zuylen was also forced to work for the Japanese. Batik Hokokai was not only so extravagant and extensive in it's use of colours and motifs due to lack of good quality cotton, but probably also because van Zuylen deliberately stretched the making process. Sometimes they work more than a year on one sarong!**

Detail of nightside "Difficult Time"

Before I started making "Difficult Time" I was reading a lot about Vincent van Gogh and his love for Sunflowers and Japan. Wanting to combine his inspirations with mine I decided to design a Batik. Not knowing the history of the Pagi-Sore Batik, I chose its format because it combines day and night, beginning and ending, life and death in one work. On the dayside I wanted fields full of growing Sunflowers facing towards the sun, on the nightside birds eating Sunflowerseeds.
I wrote 3 posts on my virtual residence about preparing "Difficult Time", I posted it later on De reis naar Batik. First post was called 'Flower of the Sun' : "The Sunflower is a much used subject in art, and maybe it should be a symbol for art and especially the artist. We grow and flourish under any kind of condition. Our ground maybe malnutrition, but we always turn our heads towards the future and better times. Art is not only beauty, it can also feed your mind and fill your thoughts. Let the Sunflower be our symbol for the survival of art and artists!".
After that "Making fabric look like paper" and "Making paper look like fabric" : "Putting the last layers of paint on the work I still didn't share fully. Only bits (birds) and pieces (Sunflowers), unfinished details, but not on my blogs.
When I'm finished painting, I have to transfer the painting on to tracing paper and send it by post to Indonesia. Where hopefully the Batik makers in Jeruk will use the design for a Batik."

At the moment my transferred to tracing paper Pagi-Sore Batik design is with Willem Kwan, the batikexpert I met during my stay in Indonesia. He will let me know if the design can be used for an actual Batik. If so, the women I met in Jeruk (near Lasem) will make the Batik! I'll keep you posted!

Detail of dayside "Difficult Time"

Detail of dayside "Difficult Time"

Detail of dayside "Difficult Time"

* information and text from "Batik, creating an identity" by Lee Chor Lin
** information and text from article "Little Red Riding Hood in Batik, From Batik Belanda to Batik Hokokai" by Amy Wassing in 'Vertrouwd en vreemd: ontmoetingen tussen Nederland, Indië en Indonesië"'
*** Post on my website about the work in progress, Part I