We have been visiting Keramisto for a few years now. It’s an annual ceramics market held over the weekend at a recreational area close to Nijmegen. It has a nice mix of really basic, everyday pottery and the most conceptual art pieces — side by side. Every year, we buy some pieces, sometimes because we have a special purpose for it and we were on the lookout for something, or because we simply like it.
Here’s what we bought this year.

Here's what we bought this year.

We’re staying in Den Haag at the moment — Friday I had a day off, and the Rothko exhibit at the municipal museum was still on the list after last year’s debacle. So why not book a bed & breakfast (this one, a cozy mini-apartment) and make it a nice weekend outing? Why not indeed, so that is exactly what we did.

Yesterday we arrived around 13:30, and after getting installed into the apartment, we walked to Panorama Mesdag. I had never been there before, and klik wanted to show me. We had lunch on the way.
It was great fun — it is an impressive painting, and the illusion you’re standing on a dune is quite nice. But we also saw some photos of New Horizons, a photography project that took a photo at every hour in 2012. A few selected photos were on exhibit, and it was really beautiful and interesting. (Most photos won’t show anything special, but of course for this exhibit the selection featured night shots with illuminated ships passing by, shots with fog or beautifully orange sunsets.) It’s also thematically quite close to the Panorama, which is an added bonus!

After that, we walked into the city centre. We withstood the urge to go paper shopping at Daamen (we already have too much paper in store), and wandered around aimlessly. But around dinner time, our wandering was aimed at Burgerz, a gourmet hamburger restaurant.
Verdict: Not bad at all, with a much larger selection than Wally, but it is much less culinairy. Ketchup is served in mass-produced portion packages, for instance — something that simply does not happen at Wally. But if you’re there and in the mood for a burger, it’s certainly a good option! (The seats are kinda high, though, so getting in and out of your seat can be a bit uncomfortable.)

Today, we took the bus to the municipal museum, and arrived an hour after opening. I had bought tickets in advance so we did not have to wait in line for the ticket window — but I had forgotten those at home! So we had to buy tickets anyway… At least the money goes towards the museum, that’s a small comfort.
The Rothko exhibit was really interesting, but also quite packed with people who had gotten the audio tour. This resulted in people wandering around like zombies with headphones — and since there was a large horde of them, getting to see everything required frequent side-stepping.

I liked some of his early work, but the reason we wanted to see the exhibit was of course to see more of his ‘classic style’ paintings, which we had been ‘confronted with’ at the Tate Modern some years ago when we visited London. I like his darker paintings, because they have so much structure. It’s not all black, because if you look closer (or longer) you can see different shades of black, and the interplay of the light and the structure of the paint gives a different view depending on your viewpoint or your mood. It’s just a shame he had to be so depressed in order to make these beautiful artifacts.
We leafed through the catalogue, but on paper the paintings feel ‘flat’, and didn’t interest me.

Then we walked through some of the fixed collection, and then it was time for lunch. The line for the cafetaria was quite long, and once we had our food, we could not find a place to sit — the place was packed. In the end, we managed to find a spot.

Most of the other exhibits were interesting as well, with notable mentions for the ceramics and the ‘romantic fashion’. We also checked out the ‘Wonder Rooms’ in the basement, with a lot of fun interactive exhibits about art. (We skipped on the interactivity, we were getting tired…)
While we were strolling along, we passed our king and queen. I saw a family of three coming towards us, and heard the little girl say something, and then the mother sais something like “Yes dear, but we have to go on”. I didn’t pay attention (the Wonder Rooms are aimed at children, so it’s not that out of the ordinary to see a family there), but klik did because she thought the mother sounded like our queen.
She looked up and saw the three of them (king, queen and one of the princesses) walk by us in the opposite direction, with a security guy behind them…
I guess visiting a museum with your kids is a fun thing to do, but when you’re the king you can’t wander through the exhibits like we do. That’s kinda sad, really.

Anyway, after making the rounds we checked out the shop (didn’t buy anything) and went back to the B&B to rest up before heading out to dinner…

We should stop browsing around on sites selling Japanese woodblock prints. We just bought another one. I especially like the vivid colors and the great detailing. The ‘wet pavement’-effect is superb.

And we even visited this shrine last year: the laterns are really something:

ingiechan wanted to get out of the house at least once this weekend. A week ago, she received the new folder of the museumjaarkaart (‘museum year card’, which allows you free entrance in many museums in the Netherlands) and there was mention of an ukiyo-e exhibition with work from Hokusai, in the Sieboldhuis. And so we set out to Leiden today.

Siebold was a doctor who visited Japan as part of the Dutch trade mission. He was a true scientist who tried to gain as much insight on Japan as possible, so he collected many artifacts and plant- and animal specimen. Some of his collection is now on exhibit in the Sieboldhuis, his former residence. It’s an interesting collection indeed, but the main attraction today was the Hokusai exhibition.

I love graphic work, especially after having done the graphics course — knowing the techniques used certainly adds to the appeal (to me). When we were in Japan last spring, we visited an ukiyo-e museum in Osaka. The Tokyo-Edo museum in Tokyo had many exhibits about ukiyo-e as well, and I got a good look at the technique and the detailing that was prevalent at the time.
And so I loved the exhibition as well. There were some really interesting prints — some using blindprinting to add details, and from some prints there were two versions to show the difference between the original and a later reprint.

On the first floor, there is an art dealer that specialises in Japanese art, Hotei. We browsed a bit, but most of the stuff was too expensive to make it worth it for us. Until a lady pointed at a box of prints and said: “Well, these are all 250 euros.”
It just so happened that I had looked at my bank statement for the spaarloon (‘wage savings’) that I built up at TOJ. That was more than 500 euros, and it’s money that I don’t need for anything right now — it’s extra. And while I don’t need to spend it, I have been looking at uikyo-e listings on art auction sites before. I own a few books about these prints. I like them a lot…
And so we browsed through the ‘cheap’ bin and found one that we both really, really, really liked. So we bought it.

It’s by Chikanobu, who was active as print-maker in the Meiji era (so, after Japan had become a modern nation). We bought this print, depicting a scene from a kabuki play, which in turn depicts a historical event. It’s part of a series of ukiyo-e prints.
We don’t have the print at home yet — it has to be framed first, and we’ll be collecting it when we go back for the second part of the Hokusai exhibition. ingiechan snapped a pic of our print, though — you can see that it is nicely preserved: still full of color after 125 years.

I’m very pleased that I will be owning a good quality ukiyo-e print. I can’t stop looking at it.

Paper art

Yesterday, we went to Apeldoorn, to see (part of) the Holland Paper Biennal at the CODA museum. Some things were ‘meh’, but most things were very cool and impressive. Top piece this, by Lu Shengzhong:

(Taken from the museum café, looking down into the exposition)

It’s hard to see from this distance (and with this resolution), but these are three books with red pages. The pages have been cut into strips, with at the end small human figures — as if they have an umbilical cord towards the empy books. It must have been a lot of work, but the sheer volume of paper make that the details are lost in the chaos.
If you’re interested in paper art, the collection at the CODA is very nice! We’ll be visiting Rijswijk next month, to coincide with the paper market.

Sheep!

When the summer ends, the sheep will dissapear from behind our house and go to their usual haunt. To fill the gap, maybe this is something…

Apparently, the telephones actually work, but I don’t know about the sound quality with those long cables attached.

Yesterday, we hopped in the car to visit the Van Gogh Museum. Not to see works by Van Gogh (somehow we’re not really interested in those), but because there was an exhibition of Meiji-era artworks.
After the Meiji restoration, traditional Japanese craftsmanship was preserved even though the rest of the nation was modernised very rapidly. Through world exhibitions, the Japanese sold their wares to the west to bring in hard currency — they even let a westerner choose which objects would be on display. Some professor has acquired a collection of over 2000 of such Meiji-era artefacts, and the exhibition (which had its last day today) showed a sample of that.

It is really hard to describe how beautiful some of the things on display were. There were things that had been made really detailed with lots of fiddly bits. But there were also things that had this simple, straight, pure beauty — and only when you looked closer did you see the intricate details.
There were lots of things decorated with cloisonné enamel — a technique afmetalsmith uses, which is why I am familiar with the basics. At first I couldn’t believe it was actual enamel, so fine and detailed were the works, and so rich in color. There was an embroidered silk tapestry, which simply showed the sea — but because of the threading in the silk, it was as if the waves actually moved when you looked at it. There was a document box wich showed a multitude of golden dragonflies, made with cloisonné enamel. There were silver vases enameld in rich, deep colors.

I am really glad we took the time to see this exhibition. And I am jealous of a guy who could collect 2000 of these things. If I had a collection like that, I’d never leave the house. Seriously.

Today, we became part of a work of art.

Ten minutes of sitting in a room with only a video camera to keep you company. Apparently this is very confrontational for a lot of people. Perhaps we are weird in that we have some sort of inner peace or something — those ten minutes had gone by faster than I thought.

After the taping, we chatted with the artist a bit. She has some pretty cool ideas.

In the museum shop, I saw this shirt. Sadly, the sizes don’t go above XL, which is too small for me. The shop lady told me that it was a work of art and that I shouldn’t wear it — but I buy shirts to wear them. Limited editions mean nothing to me. If art is combined with an everyday object, it needs to be used so that your day is infused with it.

Too bad, no shirt for me. I’ll live.