There’s a lot of it about. Every place we visit has some sort of ‘exposition’, even if it’s only information boards and plaques. The Dutch want you to know what you’re looking at or walking past, why it’s there and why it matters.
We go to as many events and exhibitions as we can, but there’s always at least one, which we either only realise exists as we’re leaving or which is such a closely guarded secret that we can’t be held responsible for missing it.
It’s been a bonanza so far this year though. I wrote about Chihuly in the museum in Groningen. I don’t think I mentioned the Ceramics museum (Leeuwarden) where I learned that the crockery I liked in a hotel we once stayed in, was Maastrichtware. – decorated with pink and blue flowers. It’s better than I’ve made it sound and as it’s still being made, it’s available in many stores from Hema to the more upmarket. The wierdest thing in the Ceramics collection was a ceramic piano -which made music. You night think tht ceramics are either objets d’art or functional: for eating off and drinking from, but actually ceramics are a tradeable commodity (ok, you can drink your coffee from a ceramic mug if you want to) and the Dutch are great traders.
In Elburg at the start of the week, we saw a huge poster on a building in the industrial estate part of the town, advertising, ‘Zandverhalen in Elburg’ – literally,’Sand heaven in Elburg.
We had to go. It opened in the middle of the summer last year and is a ‘huge, indoor sand sculpture display about the world.’ I have never seen anything like it. Have a look for yourself:www.zandverhalen.nl. The work of an international team of artists which took 25,000 man hours, over two years to construct.
The sculptures are of bible stories and civilisation, encompassing all the peoples of the world.
The detail is amazing, from the pattern on a fisherman’s jersey to the bitten nails of a workman. The scale is huge, including a model of the temple in Jerusalem, complete with tiny pilgrims on camels and donkeys, winding their way to the top. And the finishing touch in the café, is several huge ceramic jars, laid on their sides and filled with cushions, for kids (and older people too) to climb into. Unforgettable!
Then in Hardewijk, the Marius van Dokkum gallery. I’m not usually a fan of ‘cartoonish’ paintings, but this exhibition has changed my mind. Marius van Dokkum is a very skilled painter – his pictures of fruit are good enough to eat. He paints ‘pears as people’ which is surreal. Have a look at this website:www.mariusvandokkummuseum.nl
He uses real people as his inspiration (with their permission) and paints pictures which are laugh-out-loud funny or just as poignant as they are amusing. I really loved the painting which makes the observer feel like a painting, with the public looking at him. Very clever.
Included in the museum are his oil sketches, so you can see the process and thinking behind the finished piece. I’ve never seen this from any other artist. As well as having a prolific output, he also works part-time as a paper designer (whatever that is) and volunteers in a local Old Persons’ Home. Some people really get value for money out of their time on this Earth.