Local Heart, Global Soul

June 21, 2020

Oooh That Look!

In yesterday’s post I was looking at the amazing decoration inside the Queen’s/king’s waiting room at Hollandspoor train station. First the ceilings, walls and floors around the stair area and now, lastly the columns in the pillars by the staircase. There are a a couple of birds fighting over a snake and a cherub at the bottom who, judging by the look on it’s face doesn’t look like it is particularly amused by the situation going on or is having a particularly great day.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 4, 2020

Beginning My Love Of…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My”Monumentendag” visit has bought me to Hollandspoor train Station in the Hague, and outside the heavily ornate outside entrance of the Queen’s /King’s waiting room.

One of the pieces of ornate stone carving is a very familiar one: a representation of an acanthus leaf. Wikipedia tells us: Acanthus (plant)

Acanthus is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Acanthaceae, native to tropical and warm temperate regions, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean Basin and Asia.

The genus comprises herbaceous perennial plants, with spiny leaves and flower spikes bearing white or purplish flowers.

Acanthus leaves were the aesthetic basis for capitals in the Corinthian order of architecture; Acanthus (ornament).

The leaves also have many medicinal uses.

Acanthus ilicifolius, whose chemical composition has been heavily researched, is widely used in ethnopharmaceutical applications, including in Indian and Chinese traditional medicine.

Various parts of Acanthus ilicifolius have been used to treat asthma, diabetes, leprosy, hepatitis, snake bites, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The link in the text to “Acanthus (ornament)” leads to a gallery showing a few of the thousands, if not millions of places this emblem has been used around the world, mostly in wood and stone, but also in plaster and other forms.

This has to be one of my favourite decorations, not least because it was an acanthus in stone that began my love of architectural detail.

May 24, 2020

Female Figures…

The facade of Hollandspoor station in The Hague is ornate and beautiful.
I couldn’t resist zooming in for a closer look.

The female figures hold various objects: The staff of Hermes Caduceus/Rod of Asclepius representing Medicine, the artists palette (the Arts), a book (Literature), a bee-hive and cog of a machine (Industry?), an anvil and hammer (Labour ?) a Cornucopia,  (Plenty/Abundance?).

These are the kind of details that you have to stop and discover, something that the rush and bustle of the train schedule doesn’t always allow.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

HsporedetailOut1g (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

HsporedetailOut1i (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

HsporedetailOut1h (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 14, 2020

The Man Who Changed A Nation!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this, my last post about the Johan Rudolph Thorbecke memorial statue, I am learning more and more about the man who effectively changed Dutch history.

I knew roughly that Thorbecke introduced democracy to the Netherlands, limiting the power of the King and turned the country into a constitutional monarchy.

I also knew that one of the main thoroughfares in the Hague is named after him: the Thorbeckelaan.

Now I also learn a lot more detail about this amazing man. (Wikipedia, in the above link.)

“Despite initial reluctance, William II appointed Thorbecke as formateur in late October 1849, and his first cabinet took office on 13 November.

In this cabinet, Thorbecke served as minister of the Interior and chaired the Council of Ministers, thus becoming de facto Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

Thorbecke’s first cabinet passed several acts of particular importance, including the Electoral Act and the Province Act in 1850, and the Municipality Act in the following year.

Despite these successes, Thorbecke’s reforms were increasingly subjected to resistance, and he was criticised for his haughtiness and his strained relationship with the King. In 1853, the Catholic Church sought to restore the episcopal hierarchy in the Netherlands. Common people, pastors and conservative notables showed resistance to this in an anti-papal movement known as the “Aprilbeweging”. Thorbecke, who remained passive in the issue in defence of the separation of church and state, was accused of catholic sympathies, and he was forced to resign.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Thorbecke spent nine years as leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives. He pleaded for neutrality in the Crimean War 1854, and opposed the religious nature of the Primary Education Act in 1857.

The collapse of the conservative cabinet in 1862 brought Thorbecke back in power. On 31 January 1862, he started his second term as minister of the Interior and chairman of the Council of Minister.

Thorbecke’s relationship with the King had improved because the focus of his reforms had shifted from politics to economics, and despite the increased disunity among the liberals, his cabinet lasted for four years because of the support of the Catholics.

One of Thorbecke’s first acts in his second term was the abolition of the governmental departments for religious services.

Other notable achievements include the construction of several canals, the Secondary Education Act in May 1863, several acts on healthcare, and the municipal tax reform in 1865.

The cabinet collapsed on 10 February 1866 and Thorbecke resigned after a conflict regarding criminal law in the Dutch East Indies.

Thorbecke returned to being leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives. In 1868, he formed the Van Bosse-Fock cabinet, but did not take part in the cabinet himself. Three years later, after this cabinet had collapsed over foreign policy, the 73-year old Thorbecke did not hesitate to start his third term.
In December 1871 fell ill, and never fully recovered. Thorbecke died at his home in The Hague on 4 June 1872, at the age of 74.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hated by some (he was not a man of concessions), he is nowadays considered a towering figure in Dutch parliamentary history.
There are three statues of Thorbecke (one in Amsterdam, one in The Hague and one in Zwolle) and a room in the Dutch parliament building is named after him.

I am really pleased that I’ve ended up looking deeper into this astonishing man’s life.

I am amazed at how long and hard this man fought for so many changes to society, not just dealing with opposing political parties, but also the might of the Church and King!

Introducing constitutional monarchy and democracy is certainly accomplishment enough, but adding: separation of Church and State, Economic reforms, passing important Electoral, Province, Municipality Acts, advocated for neutrality in time of war, making canal construction possible, also Secondary Education, Healthcare and Municipal Tax reforms…

… That’s one heck of a Curriculum Vitae!

Now I “get” why Thom Puckey created this monument is in two parts: The marble section represents the actual man; Thorbecke, at his desk, looking at the very Parliament buildings he worked and held office. The marble maybe (I think) represents the past centuries, time, but also something natural that is very long lasting.

The other half of the statue is made of rust-free steel;  man-made, a visionary material from Thorbecke’s perspective. Times (and things) have changed but men and women are still free to discuss and debate the Constitution. Maybe the modern material represents Visionary thoughts, ideas??

Maybe it means these figures represent Future centuries, and that the progress that Thorbecke brought about, is still very much present and relevant in the here-and-now, and hopefully ongoing into future centuries too. For ALL of his work, Johan Rudolph Thorbecke truly deserves a more recognition, and a stunning memorial, for his… …Monumental achievements!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 13, 2020

The 2017 Thorbecke Monument Detail…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This 2017 Thom Puckey statue celebrates Johan Rudolph Thorbeke and is located in the Hague.

Wikipedia (link above) tells us: “Johan Rudolph Thorbecke (14 January 1798 – 4 June 1872) was a Dutch statesman of a liberal bent, one of the most important Dutch politicians of the 19th century.

In 1848, he virtually single-handedly drafted the revision of the Constitution of the Netherlands, giving less power to the king and more to the States General, and guaranteeing more religious, personal and political freedom to the people.”

During his Political life: “On 21 May 1844, Thorbecke was elected into the House of Representatives for South Holland. In the House, he developed into the leader of the liberal opposition and, later that year, joined forces with eight like-minded members in a vain attempt to amend the constitution in the so-called Voorstel der Negenmannen (“Proposition of the Nine Men”).

Four years later, with much of Europe convulsed by the Revolutions of 1848, William II agreed upon the formation of a committee for revision of the constitution.

Thorbecke was appointed as head of this committee on 17 March. The changes were virtually all created by Thorbecke, as the other members of the committee did little but approve of his proposals. The drafted constitution was somewhat reluctantly approved by the States General, and was proclaimed on 3 November 1848. The new constitution established civil rights and parliamentary competences, and introduced direct election of members of House of Representatives and ministerial responsibility, thus limiting the power of the King and turning the country into a complete constitutional monarchy.

I have now come to the conclusion that the item that the lady in the modern section of the statue is not a laptop as I first assumed, but rather a copy of the Dutch constitution and that the reason this statue is in two parts is because the “older” part is a tribute to Thorbecke himself and the “modern” section is a tribute to the huge part that his work plays in today’s modern Dutch society.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 12, 2020

Work Or Office Gossip?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My ‘Nationale Monumentendag’ (Open days for National Historic Places sites) visits have come to a small halt whilst I get from one place on my vising list to another.

This beautiful statue by Thom Puckey stands before me and on one side of it I am looking at a scene where a female colleague sits on the edge of a desk, with might be an open laptop chatting to her two seated male colleague’s. The meeting looks very informal so who knows if they are chatting about work, or maybe swapping a little bit of office gossip?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 11, 2020

Rust-Free Steel And Marble…

In the centre of the Hague (photographed during the summer of 2019) is a large statue. Located at the intersection of the Lange Voorhout, Hoge Nieuwstraat, and Lange Vijberberg it’s a very large piece, in marble and rust-free steel by Thom Puckey.

I walked around it , taking photographs as I went (not completely easy because there were children sitting at the base (red headwear of one and hair-clips etc of the other, visible at the very bottom of my first photograph) Although I waited quite a while so see if they would leave, they didn’t, so I photographed around them the best I could. Luckily no-one sat around the other sides so at least was one less difficulty.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 9, 2020

Detail At The Top…

Following yesterday’s post I an outside the Sociëteit “De Vereeniging” (Private Member’s Club) in the Hague. The building has some beautiful stone detail on the outside, worth taking a closer look…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 30, 2020

One Street, Five Names…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In the summer of 2019, I took my wheelchair and my sticks and made a few visits on ‘Nationale Monumentendag’ (Open days for National Historic Places sites).

This allows visits to places that are not usually open to the public, and since I didn’t want to travel far between sites, I tried to visit just a few in close proximity to one another.

Travelling between Javastraat and Parkstraat, several things caught my eye.

First: the tallest building on the right in the photograph below, used to belong to the Gemeente (City Council) and it was possible to have weddings here as well as in the (old) Gemeentehuis in the very centre of town.

The “old” building is no longer somewhere where you can take your vows,

Himself and I were lucky and were married in the old building right before the Gemeente’s new building opened and they closed the old one to marriage ceremonies.

That was extra special because I married in the same room as my Dutch Grandma did in 1916.

I loved her to bits, and miss her wit and the twinkle in her eye still.

Back to this building: notice the front door, that thing is massively tall.

Sadly it’s partly obscured by the tram pole in this photograph, but I can assure you that the top of this door goes all the way up to the top of the windows either side of it.

I was sitting in a tram one day, heading home from work and a wedding party were posing in the doorway for their wedding photographs, the brides big dress only seemed to emphasise the height of the doorway they were standing in. That image has stuck in my mind and I remember it every time we pass by here.

(Below) Another building and a stork, the emblem of The Hague.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Below) Corner of Mauritskade and Parkstraat, although technically the building we see here is standing on the Scheveningseveer due to the very odd Dutch habit of changing street names after every major intersection.

To illustrate this: This one long street starts out as Dr. Kuyperstraat, then becomes Mauritskade when a canal turns a corner and appears next to it (the “kade” part of the name indicates the presence of a canal, or body of water), then it changes to Scheveningseveer (even though the canal is still next to it), then it becomes Hogewal, and then finally, Elandstraat until it’s end.

I have no clue why they have this habit especially since the Laan van Meerdervoort is maybe the cities longest street and has no name change for almost it’s entire length (until it becomes Javastraat right by Masonic House/ by the section of the first photograph.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 29, 2020

Angry Birds Next Door ?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer I visited some of the Hague’s National Historic Places as part of a national event called ‘Nationale Monumentendag’ (National Historic Places Day).

This allows public access to parts of buildings usually closed to the public.

There is a published booklet with a short blurb about each destination and maps in the back of the booklet to help you find each address.

I accidently started off the day arriving at the Hague’s Freemason’s House an hour earlier than planned but members there took pity on someone using a wheelchair and sticks and let me in anyway, so in essence I got not only a head start but also a private viewing.

I am very grateful for their kindness, since I always have to spend time waiting patiently for people to move out of shot when I’m photographing in museums etc, it was massively appreciated that I could take photographs without needing to wait.

Believe me, it was an opportunity I did not waste.  Therefore I owe Many Thanks to these kind people in Freemason’s House for letting me make exceptionally good use of my errant time.

Upon exiting Freemason’s House into the warm blue skied day, I was packing things into the wheelchair bag, and then the building next door caught my eye.

It’s not part of the Masonic building but looks like it may have been built around the same time (around the turn of the 20th Century). There are emblems on the building that are very impressive.

I can’t believe I used to take a tram past here every working day for more than five years, would “architecture gaze” out the windows as much as I could because I have a fascination with old buildings, and I never noticed these details before!

The flag outside is from the province of Zeeland in the south of the country, if it has any other meaning than the inhabitants/ owners / business within have Zeeland connections I don’t know.

A bird, (stylised eagle?) sits majestically on top of the building, while just below are pair of left and right facing stone creatures. Due to the flag getting in the way on the opposite side which I did not take into consideration at the time, the only proper illustration of them was in the shadow of the first photograph, not exactly a close-up, or good quality but enough to give you the idea.

I tried my best to do an edit/cut from Paint because I was totally unsure how else I was going to describe these. “An angry bird with it’s mouth wide open, art deco wings spread out behind it and a snake-like tail raising behind it?” Then it dawned on me that using the words “angry bird” would give you a completely different image in your mind! Closer inspection shows me that this creature appears to have ears… and the tail is a little like that of a sea-horse. It’s like a patch-work of creatures. …No wonder it’s angry.

Unusual ornamentation or not, I will be sure to remember to check this building out now that I have finally “discovered” it. It just goes to prove that a city I have lived in for more than 25 years now, and on a route that I used twice a day at one time, can still surprise me with it’s beautiful details.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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