Local Heart, Global Soul

January 17, 2013

Letting Your Own Delfts Blauw Creativity Loose…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We wanted to do something very special with our New Zealand friends when they visited a few years ago so bought them to the Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles  (The Royal Porcelain Bottle) pottery in Delft for a unique experience.

In this establishment, where the  famous Delfts Blauw (Delft Blue) has been in continuous production for more than 350 years it’s possible to paint your very own blue and white tile or small earthenware piece.

Since we are not experienced pottery artists we opted for the safer option of the flat surface of a tile rather than the possible Christmas bauble.

The workshops (reservations necessary in advance)  take two and a half hours and the brushes, the paint and the earthenware item to be painted are provided. Our tiles are 13 x 13 cm in size ( 5 x 5 inches) square and cost € 37,50 per person.

The staff provide  papers with various popular patterns  of things like windmills and flowers pinpricked into it and then they dust it with some sort of coloured dust that  goes through the holes and leaves a join-the-dots type of pattern on the tile to give you a starting image to fill in and embellish, or you can simply make your own image free-hand.

I’d made a tile here before with American friends who we also bought here in 2007  for a visit, and after learning from the first trip that there was an option to design your own tile, I took inspiration from my favourite plate: also a small  Royal Delft and designed my own tile ( or “ode to Delft ” since it’s a poor imitation of the professional version), preparing it with a zillion tiny pin pricks before I went and luckily it all worked fine when they dusted it with the coloured powder: the image transferred correctly.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You paint your tile in what looks like thin black paint which turns into the beautiful blue once the tile is fired.

The lighter your paint layer the lighter the colour blue and I now know that if you want really intense dark blue that you need to make several layers of paint because some sections of my tile still weren’t as dark in colour as I intended to them be.

The paint substance kind of soaks instantly into the tile, there is no second-chance for error and no rubbing out so a steady hand is needed and you get a very short practice on some small shards of earthenware before you start your tile design.

A few points worth noting: If you have a complex piece like my second tile you’ll be under real pressure to finish on time, the time zooms by and there are no extensions of time in the workshop possible.

You tend to try and hold your breath a lot as you attempt to keep a steady hand so it’s intense work!

There’s an age limit so Little Mr. who was too young on our first trip here, went to a playground with Himself instead. Also if I go here to make a tile again I will ask if  it’s at all possible to skip the tour of the factory that’s included in the price and use the extra time to paint instead.

After you’ve painted your tile they will take it away to be  fired and you can pick it up in person at a later date or pay extra to have it posted to you worldwide. The others got their tiles posted to their home address overseas since they were busy touring Europe so I didn’t see them finished, but I have “before and after” photos of our tiles so that you can see get an idea of what they look like after firing. (I’ve edited the photos to remove some identifying name information).

http://www.royaldelft.com/index.asp?lang=2

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Different interpretations of the same patterns: the butterflies were very popular with the kids, windmills with the adults.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I chose the above pattern as well for my first tile: before, after photo follows…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr. was old enough to take part the second time and went for a free-hand design of his own making (incorporating several names)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Turned out brilliantly!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My little plate is my beautiful inspiration…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My second tile…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 16, 2013

Oh YES! It’s a Royal Flush!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Regular readers of my blog will know that I seem have a knack for finding unusual loos.

Some of these lavatories are truly quirky, some come with a view, some a highly decorated and most of them will leave you with a smile on your face.

I’m a firm believer that creative expression, humour and beauty should be found in as many places as possible and but sadly sometimes the most functional places in our lives, where we spend time every day are completely sterile and without character instead of being places of inspiration.

Here in the premises of the Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles  (The Royal Porcelain Bottle) in Delft I was delighted to find that even the toilet bowl was decorated with the companies iconic flourishes.

Blue and white tiles have been a traditional feature in Dutch households for many centuries and as one of the Dutch pottery companies responsible for producing these tiles it was nice to see that they decided to use the blank canvas of the walls of their public toilets to showcase just a few of their designs.

There are  mirrors over the hand basins in this Ladies loo,  and the lights caused some difficulties with reflection on the tiles so getting the photos, but I did my best and I think that this set of conveniences is inspired: A right Royal Flush!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 15, 2013

Centuries Old or Recently New, Stunning Hardly Covers it…

Filed under: DELFT,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Continuing from yesterday’s post I’ve dived into my archive photos and and taking you to a town very close to The Hague: Delft.

From humble beginnings in 1653 the Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles  (The Royal Porcelain Bottle) pottery in Delft has managed to help make Delft world famous for it’s blue and white earthenware.

It may come as a surprise but not all of the pottery that’s known as “Delftware” is blue and white in colour.

There are other famous and specific types and styles of earthenware (tulip holders and shaped plates that fit together etc) that incorporate many colours and for many centuries these were actually as popular as the blue and white pieces but in the last centuries it’s the distinctive blue and white pattern that  became a fashion icon and gained the most popularity therefore stealing the limelight.

The Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles has  a long centuries long  association with the Dutch royal family and was granted the right to incorporate the word “royal” into the name of their company in 1919 in  recognition of this.

Inside the factory it’s possible to see the companies own collection, treasures, some of them as old as the company itself.  There were also some stunning hand painted examples in the shop (with matching stunning prices). But you are at least paying for something totally hand-crafted and a beautiful work of art in it’s own right:  They take my breath away…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Koninklijke_Porceleyne_Fles

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 14, 2013

A Very Different Type of Delftware…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A few more posts from my archive stock of photos.

Some years ago we had good friends visiting from New Zealand and we wanted to take them somewhere where they could do something that would provide a lasting memory of their trip to the Netherlands.

The Hague borders with the smaller town of Delft, world famous for it’s blue and white tin-glazed pottery so we took them for a special experience to the oldest  pottery in Delft  still in continuous production after over 350 years: the  Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles.

The company has been in various Delft locations since the 17th century, but has been in it’s current location since 1916.

The building itself is a work of art is is richly decorated in stained glass, tiles and pottery both inside and out.

There are amazing tile murals: even a highly detailed blue and white representation of Rembrandt’s  famous painting  “De Nachtwacht” (the Night Watch).

Delft potteries didn’t only make the blue and white plates they are most famous for:  to pay the bills they also made everything from chimney pots to drainpipes and a lot of  pottery architectural decoration, some of which have been incorporated into their own building over the years.

There’s also a small inner courtyard where the ornamentation continues. Needless to say all of the pottery was made here by the Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles staff. So… before we take a look at the pottery that Delft is famous for, let’s take a look at some of this beautiful craftsmanship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Koninklijke_Porceleyne_Fles

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 19, 2012

Dedicated to the Innocents for Whom the Laughter Has Been Stilled….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I got rather excited by the next piece that sits very high up on the wall until (sigh) I realised it too was a copy and not an original…

Most people would not recognise him if I only used his family name and called him “Mr. Buonarroti” … but proving that even centuries ago some were famous enough to be known only by their first names and if I gave you a clue and said he’s probably one of the original “Renaissance men” then probably you may well guess the first name by which he is far better known: Michelangelo.

This piece is a copy of Michelangelo’s “Taddei Tondo” (“Tondo”meaning “round”) and the original marble was carved in Florence between 1504 and 1506.
Michelangelo made several similar “ Madonna and child” studies around this time and this one : ‘The Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John” and depicts a baby Jesus in the lap of the virgin Mary looking over towards and infant John the Baptist who is offering him a bird.

Whilst this copy stands in the Royal Academy of Art in the centre of the Hague, the original stands in the United Kingdom’s Royal Academy of Art in the centre of London.

Michelangelo made remarkably few sculptural pieces so this rare marble is the only sculpture by Michelangelo in the United Kingdom.

The plaque on the wall that describes the piece states that the original had been bought by Sir George Beaumont during a tour of Italy in 1821 and when he passed away in 1830 he bequeathed it to the UK Academy of Art.

There are no original Michelangelo’s in the Netherlands but the painter is known to have vastly influenced two famous Dutch painters: Cornelis van Haarlem and later Frans Hals. In fact, van Haarlem was so influenced that he earned himself the nickname “the Dutch Michelangelo”

The other theme I’m covering in this post are the cupids in the relief panels.. playful in their innocence these little classical cherubs are playing music and frolicking  in joy, dancing and smiling and having fun.

It seemed somewhat appropriate to me that these beautiful images were frozen in time, the laughter is there but like a modern day photograph you can see the smiles but there is no sound in the room.

I’m reminded of the other “little angels” of recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary (Primary) School, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine  and other war zones, and all areas of poverty or abuse who’s laughter has also been stilled.

This post is dedicated to ALL of the world’s babes in arms who are innocent victims of the madness of adults.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 18, 2012

A Mysterious Copy …And The Siren Song That Calls Me To Find Out More…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next thing that catches my eye in this room at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (Royal Academy of Art) is the amazing work of art around the door I used to enter the room.

Once again the plaque tells me it’s a copy, but I thought  it was such a magnificent copy that I knew I wanted to find out more about the original.

Amazingly I could only find two texts on the piece: both in Dutch, and one of them is the information here that accompanies the Copy.

I’ve quoted both Dutch texts in full, and then made a translation into English following it for you. I do have a small problem trying to figure out where the original is now located… is it still in Remagen in Germany, incorporated into a cemetery wall as the second text sort of implies (complete with photo on website)… or is the original in the Scheurleer collection, purchased in 1919 from the Kuntstgewerbemuseum in Dusseldorf as the first text tells us?

Either way, it’s a shame that more information is not available about beautiful ancient works such as these and in the meantime I’m happy to make do with this stunning copy, which even comes with it’s own little mystery!

“Parochiekerk st petrus en paulus, Remagen Duitsland, Kopie: oorspronkelijk collectie Scheurleer, aangekocht in 1919 van het Kuntstgewerbemuseum in Dusseldorf.

In de vijfde eeuw werd binnen de muren van het Romeins fort Rigomagus de eerst christelijk kerk in Remagen gebouwd. De eersten christenen waren Romeinse soldate,. Op het kerkhof naast de Parochiekerk st.

Petrus en Paulus is deze Romaanse poort uit de 12e eeuw te vinden. De iconografie van de voorstellingen is niet geheel duidelijk, oude Heidense en Romeinse vorstellingen werden zonder problem geintegreerd in de Christelijke iconogrfie.

De oorspronkelijk locatie van de poort is tevens onduidelijk. Uit oude foto’s van rond 1900 blijk dat onderdelen van de poort die nu op een andere manier zijn gerangschikt, lukraak in de kerkhofmuur zijn verwerkt. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Tijdens de verbouwing van de Academie in 1998 kwam tot ieders verassing deze poort achter en betimmering tevoorschijn. Niemand van de toenmalige academiemedewerkers wist van het bestaan van dit toch niet geringe gipsen bouwwerk.”

St. Peter and Paul Parish Church, Remagen Germany.
Copy: original Scheurleer collection, purchased in 1919 from the Kuntstgewerbemuseum in Dusseldorf.

In the fifth century the first Christian church was built within the walls of the Roman fortress in Remagen. The first Christians were Roman soldiers. This 12th century Roman gate is located in the cemetery next to the Parish Church St. Peter and Paul.

The iconography within the representations is not entirely clear, since it was no problem at the time to integrate ancient pagan Roman images into Christian iconography. The original location of the gate is also unclear.

Old photos taken in the 1900’s show parts of the gate as it is now, in a very different way, haphazardly arranged into the churchyard wall. During the renovation of the Academy in 1998, to everyone’s surprise this gate was discovered behind some panelling.

None of the former Academy staff knew of the existence this even though it was not a small or minor plaster work.

site of original text (Dutch language text only)

http://www.oudweb.nl/remagen-sirene.html

“Veel van het middeleeuwse klooster van Remagen (Duitsland) is niet bewaard gebleven. Wél de grote en kleine ingangsportalen (rond 1200) tot het kooster, fraai versierd met fabelwezens. Links is nog de kerkdeur van de neo-romaanse kerk te zien.

Het meest gebiologeerd zijn we toch door de middeleeuwse poorten en vooral door de vliegende Alexander & een vrouwelijk wezentje mét visstaart én vogelpootjes. De roeispaan in haar hand plaatst haar duidelijk (net als haar staart) in de zee; zij is de sirene. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Nou kennen wij de verleidelijke en muzikale sirenen al sinds Homerus (Odysseus) en elders lezen we dat de Sirenen ooit Proserpina’s vriendinnen waren en dat alleen zanger Orpheus de sirenen kunnen overtreffen met zijn gezang!

De middeleeuwer kende dit fabelwezen ook. De associatie met de zee was zó sterk dat de sirene een visstaart kreeg. Verleiding en vrouw horen bij elkaar, althans volgens de middeleeuwer. En zó werd de sirene een vis-vrouw, bij uitstek het symbool voor de vrouwelijke verleidingskunsten. Dat vogel-element bleef ook bekend in de middeleeuwen, vandaar de vogelpootjes.

Zo ‘groeide’ de sirene uit tot zeemeermin met pootjes die nog twaalf keer per jaar – op de eerste maandag van de maand om precies twaalf uur – van zich laat horen (in die hoedanigheid is ze in 2012 precies 193 jaar jong); het kan verkeren!”

Much of the medieval monastery of Remagen in Germany has not been preserved. However, the large and small entrance portals (circa 1200) to the cloister are beautifully decorated with mythical creatures. To the left is the door of the neo-Romanesque church can be seen.

The most we are still mesmerized by the medieval gates and especially the flying Alexander and a female creature with fishtail and bird feet. (Kiwi’s note: Photo number 2 in this post)  The oar in her hand places her clearly (just like its tail) in the sea, denoting that she is the siren.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We know the tales of seductive sirens and their music from Homer (Odysseus) and others, who tell us of the Sirens hold ever Proserpina’s (a.k.a. in greek as Persephone) where even Orpheus the greatest musician was surpassed by the Sirens singing!

This fabulous creature was well known in the Middle Ages too.

The association with the sea was so strong that the symbol for the siren was the fishtail. Seduction and woman went together, at least according to the Middle Ages.

So the siren fish-woman was the ultimate symbol of feminine seduction. The bird element was known in medieval times, hence the inclusion of the bird’s feet.

Thus ‘grew’ the siren mermaid with legs up to twelve times a year – on the first Monday of the month at exactly twelve o’clock – can be heard (in that capacity, which makes her exactly 193 years young in 2012 and in very good condition!)

Now I “think” that the writer here is humorously alluding to a totally different Dutch tradition about the siren, but more on that in a post in the near future.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 17, 2012

Stuff I Can’t Quite Get my Head Around, and Heads I Definitely Can…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In continuance of yesterday’s post, we are still at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (KABK)  in The Hague.

The KABK translates into English as “Royal Academy of Art” and we passed a few exhibits that left us thinking all manner of thoughts from “amazing!” to “um… what were they smoking when they thought that was a good idea?”.

One of the later ones involved little earphone speakers hanging down from the ceiling, you were to hear the natural thought processes behind the art pieces… I went and listened expecting a commentary or music or… something coherent at least.

I was disappointed: the noise I heard was jarring, vague and actually not at all pleasant to listen to. We left that room rather quickly because the artworks in it made as little sense (to us at least) as the soundtrack did.

Other stuff, like the modern ideas in the first photos were also  beyond me… in the jacket pockets are multiple packets of chewing gum and a crushed beer can, and then there is a kind of a “leg” represented with the apparent severed remains of someone’s drastic haircut.
If you  “get it” then do pray tell…  because I’m rather at a loss with this kind of thing.

Even though we were getting close to the time to leave to make our medical appointment, I spied a room through a doorway on our way in that stopped me in my tracks…. now  this is a room I can get my head around!

I didn’t have time to read all of the wall plaques  but it quickly appears that all of the pieces in this room are copies that art students have reproduced  with reference  to famous and historical works. Copies they may be, but they are so much more my style.  I want to take photos not just because I appreciate them as art works in their own right but also because I’m building up a portfolio of “reference/ inspiration  images” for when I get back to drawing properly myself.

Students were in this room, using their laptops and scribbling notes, so I had to take a few of the photos in haste for the brief moments they were out of the picture. Personally my favourites are the first bust shown in the photo series and then the relief craving with the horses and riders that I placed at the end.

Which are your favourites? (Feel totally free to love the Green Jacket one if it grabs your imagination !)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Royal Art Academy 1u (Small)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 16, 2012

The Detail of a Dilemma… Is This to my Taste or Not?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This summer Himself and I went to an art exhibition to see the work of artist Eva Murakeözy at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (KABK) which translates into English as “Royal Academy of Art”.

The Academy is a complex amalgamation of old and new buildings with the main entrance at Prinsessegracht 4 near the centre of the Hague and there are regular exhibitions from artists working in all manner of mediums and styles.

It’s actually a pity that I have a medical appointment to go to so we will only have time to see a fraction of the work on offer, but we knew of Eva via via and heard that her work would be featured as one of the exhibits so we wanted to at least see hers whilst the exhibition was still running.

Eva works with very fine black pens, starting with detailed images and building, growing them into massive artworks.

Since I’m a detail fanatic I’m sure this would appeal: and in the end, yes I love love the detail but am personally less comfortable with the “whole” in the end result.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My own style is more realistic and structured in a more traditional way, so when I studied Art I never did particularly well when attempting to complete  abstract work and I completely failed the cartooning module of the course.

Just as I like to write long sentences in my prose, I also like to draw many lines in my drawing so skinning a subject down to the bare bones and showing it in it’s purest, simplest form with as few lines as possible (the brief  given) was an anathema to me.

Eva’s work shows a mixture of detail and abstraction that makes me want to look at some of her pieces all day long in order to decipher it all, but on the other hand I couldn’t personally live with this on my wall because the abstract elements are so “not me”.

Personal taste is everything of course…

As an Introduction to her work Eva writes:

“Eva Murakeözy
The main theme of my work is growth: my experience of life as an ever-growing multi-level movement.

Growth is guided by the dual principles of diversification and reduction, of outward radiation and inward one-centeredness, of activity and passivity, of the creepiness of instinct and the straightness of logic.

There is a personal struggle to bring both principles in harmony.”

It’s good to stretch your artistic horizons,  even if you think “you already know what you like”,  someone might give you something new and expected to like one day, so every opportunity to  explore and new artistic avenue should be taken.

Like a new food not everything you try will be to your taste but you will be richer and wiser of having tasted it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…and then I zoom in…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

These started off as ears…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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