November 6, 2013

Let me tell you about the birds and the bees

What is no longer important in five years? This haunting question stands on the Simplify Your Life weekplanner I got with my Flow (magazine)*. The first thing I thought was that I would still found nature important. It startled me that it wasn't Art. But in five years I'm sure Art will still be my life. I'm not so scared for the future of Art, maybe my path in it, but not the existence of Art itself. We just need it. It's our way to express and learn about ourselves, our emotions, our society and that of others, and of course to understand nature.
I do fear the future of nature. I believe that nature can endure anything, yet I have the fear we might win our battle against the forces of nature.
What will happen with Art if our favorite subject disappears? About a year ago I made the decision to use my Art as a way to help my muze(s). I'm already trying the same for Batik by reading, learning and blogging about it. For nature I try it with neighborhood participation projects. By improving a little part of my city I hope to give our other inhabitants a home.
During my and Koen's short holiday in september we went to Artis, Taman Indonesia and the, restored to its former glory, Rijksmuseum**. When I looked back at the photos I made during that week, I noticed that I hadn't stop spotting animals when I was looking at our Dutch history of Art. It also became clear to me that in our history nature always was import, what changed?
I have one answer for the question, that answers this and the question I started this blogpost with: Money. Can we forget about our crisis and just plants some bulbs instead? I believe that we feel much happier in a greener then in a richer world. Why else is our history filled with Art of nature?

Greenhouse in the garden of the Rijksmuseum

"Tea Brick", by Ai Weiwei 2006

At the asian pavilion

Delftware birdcage

Lacquer box at the asian pavilion

Java Sparrows, detail from Oriental Screen

Details from cabinets from around 1700 made with the marqueterie technique.* I wrote about one of these cabinets before, see blogpost "Traditional Dutch", but photographing wasn't allowed. Now you can take pictures of everything at the Rijks. Which is great, because I can get all these details for you!

Using different pieces of wood, like a mosaic, decorations are made on the cabinets. The decorations are mostly of plants, birds and insects, both indigenous and exotic.
In the last photo you see a goldfinch, it's made lifelike. Really amazing, what a craftsmanship! So if you're at the Rijks make sure to look at the cabinets!

By Jan Davidsz de Heem, 1660-c. 1683

By Jan van Kessel, c. 1660-65

The Rijks has of course a really nice collection of paintings. Next to the well known paintings, they have a brilliant collection of still lifes. Vanitas with fallen glasses, skulls, hourglasses and other symbolic things for the temporary state of life. And ones filled with flowers and insects. I wish I could photograph the butterflies in my garden like they are painted here!

Dinnerware by Th.A.C. Colenbrander, 1886

Bear by Ernest Chaplet, c. 1891-1895

"Weeping and captive caryatids: Remorse and Penance", by Artus Quellinus, 1650

* More about Flow on And Flow created a line of products for the Rijskmuseum giftshop
** More about the Rijksmuseum on
*** More cabinets made using the marqueterie technique can be found in the online collection of the Rijksmuseum

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