Local Heart, Global Soul

May 9, 2017

For Riens’ “Children”, Books Save The Day…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next section of the Sand Sculpture exhibition  in Garderen continues to show us activities of people in centuries past, but then moves on to the work and world of Dutch artist Rien Poortvliet.

There is even a sand sculpture portrait of him (first image in this post).

Rien is depicted working in his studio, the image on his easel one of his many wildlife paintings. An information board close by reads:

Het atelier van Rien Poortvliet

Vol verve werkt Rien hier aan zijn oeuvre. Zijn schilderijen waren zijn kinderen die hij liever niet verkocht.

Hij ontdekte dat je ook schilderijeb en tekening kunt maken die in boekvorm uitgegeven konden worden, zodat de originelen in zijn bezit bleven.”

This translates as: “The studio of Rien Poortvliet.

Rien working on his art work. He considered his paintings his “children” and the idea that he would have sell, and part with them pained him.

He discovered that he could publish images of his paintings and drawings in book form, and therefore the originals would remain in his possession.”

It seems to me that choosing the vocation of “artist” must be rather awkward if you didn’t really like parting with the works you produced, but needed the income from selling them to live on.

Fortunately in Riens case, his cheeky and quirky gnome books became popular fashion items in the 1990’s  Netherlands, so he was lucky to have discovered the book option at a very opportune moment.

Going onwards I find an indoor restaurant area called de Boot, it was still early and they were busy getting ready to open.

A friendly staff member told me they were preparing for a children’s birthday party booking, but welcomes any photos, so I just took few quick photographs of the decor before continuing onwards past several booths full of merchandise.

I know from previous years, some of the biggest sand sculptures are waiting for me outside…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Wikipedia / Dutch Artist / Rien Poortvliet / Gnomes
Garderen Sand Sculpture Festival

May 8, 2017

We Are Very Selective About How We Like Our “Olden Days”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I found the next section of the Sand Sculpture exhibition in Garderen a little creepy at first.

I realise that depicting people singing is difficult: statues with open mouths look extremely awkward in the absence of sound.

It was not so long ago that the vast majority of the things we take for granted as modern entertainment didn’t exist. Instead, there was the radio, gramophone, piano, and people sang in family groups or with friends. Hymns were important, almost everything commercial stopped on Sundays, church attendance was a social must.

The Netherlands has it’s own Bible Belt where even today women are expected to dress conservatory every day, they wear hats, and attending church several times per week as well as twice on Sundays is far from unusual.

In these areas the idea that the Sabbath is a day of rest of strictly adhered to. This is why these sand sculptures show people gathering in their parlor to sing.

Children had very simple toys and made do with their imaginations and each other. There were no cupboard full of games, toys, electronics. Sports were limited but outside play encouraged, except on Sundays.

Household chores in the past were also very different than to today. We think nothing of popping a load of laundry into the machine whenever it suits us.

Laundry in the past was an entire day of hard graft for the women of the household. Everything was washed by hand, water heated on a stove, a wringer was used to try and get as much water out after washing as possible and once the clothes were dry they were ironed with heavy cast iron irons that were heated on a stove.

The stove had to be kept stoked with firewood to keep the temperature up, so doing laundry was an extremely labour intensive job.

Most people were not wealthy and usually had only two full sets of clothes: one for the week and the other for Sunday best. The last photographs in this post show sand sculptures of a father and son, shivering in their underwear whilst their washed clothes slowly dried.Sometimes people wish that the pace of modern life was slower, calmer, less rushed, less busy and more like “olden times”. It’s easy to forget that some aspects of modern life are beyond better… none one us would like to endure even one day of waiting in our underclothes for our clothes to dry like this. We like the idea of the “olden days”, but I notice that we are very selective about “just the positive aspects” of these days we pick.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Garderen Sand Sculpture Festival

April 30, 2017

A Very Different Type Of Stone Age…

Filed under: Activities,ART,Garderen,Sand Sculptures,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Arriving at the Garderen Sand Sculpture festival last year, I make my way inside the gate to find first, a large display of concrete garden sculptures.

If you wanted dogs, cats, birds, bird baths, trucks, baskets, horses with carriages or almost anything else, to classical maidens, the list was almost endless.

In fact that was not available was almost the point here as the statues were lined up on long rows both side of the paths.

I photographed but a few, and a few other pieces were dotted around in between the concrete pieces: a bicycle with a basket filled with flowers, on the ground below that a mass of vintage soda syphon.

A few of the concrete pieces had been painted (mostly animals) the rest gleamed white in the summer sun.

I wonder who on earth would come here especially to buy these but remember that there is probably also something here to suit every taste, from sophisticated to kitsch. The outside statue area is differently arranged this year, mostly due to the revised Entrance point, but every year I come I think that they have managed to squeeze in even more items.  I’m not the only curious customer, for very visitor heading directly to the sand sculpture section, there are more taking a quiet look around. I might be moving slowly but at least I am also heading in the right direction.

(Photographs©Kiwidutch)

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April 19, 2017

I Am In For An Unexpected Surprise…

The exhibits continue one after another at Fort Kijkduin. I am taking up the rear of our group, enjoying it all at a leisurely pace. (“Fast” is a setting I no longer have after my accident anyway). There is however something very very different just around the corner… Looks like I am in for an unexpcted surprise…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

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Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

April 16, 2017

Buttoning Down On My Button Knowledge…

One of the things that I see in the Fort Kijkduin exhibitions is how buttons are made from bone. I had a rough idea before but have never seen any actual illustrations of it until now. It’s obviously a more percision task than I ever imagined… Cool!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

April 15, 2017

Fort Kijkduin: War And Peace…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The museum and exhibits at Fort Kijkduin near Den Helder show us many of the aspects that the fort has to offer.

One information board about World War II told us:

When the general mobilisation was announced in 1939, the fortifications here in Den Helder were reinforced up to war (strength) standards.

Extra soldiers were housed in Fort Kijkduin. However, after the surrender of May 1940 the Germans took control.

The German navy used the fort for artillery training also because they wanted to used the fort as a bomb shelter. T

he topside of the reduit (Kiwi’s Note: FR for a fortified structure) was given a thick capping of reinforced concrete of about 60 cm thick.

Under this cap was an additional meter thick layer of sand.

The Germans used the fire control post as lookout post.” It’s natural that one army (or navy) or another has used this fortification to their advantage over the past centuries. It’s easier however to think of these places being places of the “distant past” rather than of the “recent past”. One can only hope that it is never ever needed again in warfare. The exhibits continue: this is an amazing place, so much to see and thought provoking too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

April 14, 2017

Fort Kijkduin, The Tour Continues…

My tour of Fort Kijkduin continues, there is plenty to see…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

April 13, 2017

A Painting By de Goya, Fort Kijkduin, And A Sobering Connection…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Fort Kuijkduin has seen many changes since it’s formative days as a single story series of complex tunnels and bunkers.

Over time more layers were added, the fortifications increased and the size of the site changed as war, and the defences needed against enemies changed.

The complex tunnel system (or at least some of them) are open to the public, but accessible only by staircases, so out of reach for me and any other less able-bodied visitors.

Although I missed this section of the complex there is still plenty more to enjoy on the upper levels and if you really wanted to stop and look at everything in absolute detail, then one visit here would not be enough.

Models, diagrams, historical artifacts and more abound.

In the first hall that I enter, a mannequin figure in one of the alcove cells immediately gives me the impression of a famous painting by Goya and indeed I find out that this is no coincidence. I studied this painting in my Art History days of youth.

With my study notes long gone I found this excellent background:

In 1807 Napoleon offered an alliance with Charles IV of Spain in order to conquor Portugal. Napoleon’s troops poured into Spain, supposedly just passing through. However the alliance was a trick: The French were taking over and Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, was now the new King of Spain.

On May 02 1808 hundreds of Spaniards rebelled. Unsuccessful, these freedom fighters were rounded up and massacred by the French. Their blood literally ran through the streets of Madrid. Goya, although having French sympathies in the past, was appalled by these events and commemorated the uprising in two paintings, the most famous of which being “Third of May 1808”.
To discover why this exhibit is here I read from an information board:

On 02 May 1808 the Spanish people stood up against the French but their attempt was unsuccessful. The painter Francisco de Goya made a moving painting about the mass execution that followed.

Many (Spaniards) were made prisoner of war and were forced to work on all sorts of large projects throughout the French empire. One of the persons depicted being executed in this painting is a symbol for all of the prisoners of war who were transported here and forced to dig out Fort Kijkduin.” I had no clue that this connection existed. It’s a sobering thought, not just for the Spanish who lost their lives but also for those and all the other prisoners who were forced into hard labour both at home and abroad.

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

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Fort Kijkduin, situation 1812, lighthouse removed 1822…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Fort Kijkduin, situation 1990…

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Francisco de Goya / Third of May 1808 / Painting

Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

April 12, 2017

English: We Shall Fight On The Beaches!… Opps, But Not Ours!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Arriving in the entrance hall of Fort Kijkduin, located close to Den Helder in the Netherlands, visitor attention is immediately caught by a large exhibit.

It depicts the landing battle between the English and (Napoleon’s)French on the beaches here. An information board translates as:

The early morning landing from 27 August 1799.

The English ships produce such heavy fire that the Bataafse army could not prevent the enemy from coming ashore.

Even worse, both of the rifle battalions (green uniforms) had to retreat to the hamlet of Groote Keeten.

Additionally, the second Battalion of the 5th Half Brigade (Blue and white uniforms) was forced to retreat to the Koegras.

The losses from the Bataafse side: approximately 1400 men.
The losses from the English side:approximately 500 men.

As a result of this landing Napoleon ordered the buildings of fortifications in Den Helder, including this fort.”

The little model figures and boats depict the battle, but are safely under a protective cover, away from inquisitive little fingers.This is how, as soon as we get in the door, we find the reason that this fort was built…  and since starting at the beginning is  very good idea, so in we go!


(photograph © Kiwidutch)


(photograph © Kiwidutch)


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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

April 10, 2017

Almost Literally Getting Blown Through The Front Door…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Family Kiwidutch and friends are visiting Fort Kijkduin on the outskirts of Den Helder in the Netherlands.

The day presents us with high gusting winds and dark stormy skies, but the wind has a plus side: it is blowing the bad weather away.

The sun is trying to break through the dark clouds, succeeding more and more as the day goes on, so we have been exceptionally lucky: especially considering that we packed the car on the nearby island of Texel this morning in drizzling rain.

Entering the Fort we find a series of courtyards, the first one is flanked my two small buildings, one of which looks more like a house than the other.

Then comes a bridge that connects this courtyard area with the larger one within the inner fort walls.

During our visit I never made it around the lower level courtyard (a third one, that is encircles the main Fort complex. Whilst I am taking photographs from the bridge, I happen to see a door open below me, a family come out, clearly with the intention of walking around the lower level. It only takes a minute in the cold gusting wind for them to decide to turn around and go back inside. I laugh, but can’t blame them, even the grass on top of the high wall above them is taking a battering.

Some of my photographs are a little fuzzy too: even a DSLR camera could not always focus as I tried to stay on my feet, and that’s even using every wall, rail and sheltered nook I could find to stay steady. The silver lining to this blustery weather however, is that the rest of my family, our friends, and every other set of visitors I see at that moment scurry past me as quickly as they can in search of the shelter inside, therefore I have no-one walking in front of my lens as I  take photographs.

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

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The sign “Officiers ingang” translates: “Officers entrance”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

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Even the grass is getting a battering…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

The family literally come outside for thirty seconds before deciding that inside is a better deal today…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

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Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands (Website: Dutch language only)

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