In my work I evoke memories: either literally by distilling and solidifying the memory of a time and place through the use of colours and abstract woven form and pattern, or conceptually by using materials that have memories inherent in them, such as newspaper and vintage maps.
In January of this year I went for an afternoon walk with my family around a lake at Vlietland, close to my home in The Hague. The day was bitterly cold and the wind was biting. At first the landscape seemed monotone, but after a while I began to notice how colour-full everything was. A kaleidoscope of colours unfurled. Jewel-like mossy greens and ochres on the bark of trees, and the red of the dogwood stems leaping out, catching like fire in the weak wintery light. All was tempered by warm greys, ecru and steely blues, the water reflecting the sky. The resulting series of handwoven lambswool scarves captures the colours of that moment. Colours that are first worked through on paper and canvas using mixed media techniques, and then intuitively translated into fibre on the loom.
The scarves are now in my online shop, LiminalWEAVE. Liminal means relating to a transitional stage or occupying a position at a boundary or threshold. That’s where I see my woven work – standing on the boundary between art and craft. The mixed media studies on canvas will be exhibited in May at Kunstuitleen Voorburg, where they will be available to borrow or buy, as well as some of my woven paper work, also made earlier this year.
New cushion designs
This month, I’ve been continuing with designs for cushions as part of a collaboration with by_ten_creations interior styling. Using locally grown wool produced by Grazend Populair, this sample cushion using wool from the natural lighter coloured spun fleece has come to fruition. Backed with linen, this completely unique design combines large and small motifs in the weave (right hand image). Using the darker fleece colour (middle image), a more contrasting graphical effect is achieved.
Venturing north: exploring Drenthe
Last week I had a short break in Drenthe, a province in the north of The Netherlands renowned for its nature and wildlife. The heathland there is home to many animals and birds, and it was wonderful to see a flock of Drenthe Heath Sheep being driven off the heath to their homestead by their shepherdess. The colours of the fleeces were so varied in colour and texture – some lighter, some very dark, rich umber; some straighter, some curlier. Of course when the opportunity arose, I had to buy some skeins of handspun wool which will find their way into my work when the time is right, reminding me of that time.
The huge expanse of sky and the wide open spaces were a perfect antidote to the claustrophobia of lockdown in the city. It was the first time I’ve travelled anywhere further than an hour’s drive away since August, and it reminded me of the mind-expanding joy a change of scenery can bring.
The Drenthe landscape harbours many wooded areas where partial flooding leads to a strange mixture of arid grassland and marshy waterlogged flatlands. Traversed by Vlonderpadden (board walks), it brought to my mind the African savannah (even though I’ve never been), and I half expected to see antelope hiding in the grasses.
The sea from here
Last year during lockdown, the artist David Cass initiated an open call via Instagram for photographs from people living by the sea to send in their photographs of the sea near them. The intention was to raise awareness of the plight that our seas are currently in. It was a real privilege to see my contribution included: a photo taken of the racing clouds and churning waves on the beach at Scheveningen in June. It was an incredibly windy day, and the kite surfers were out in full force. Now online, ‘The Sea from Here’ is a stunning online exhibition with contributions from as far afield as Greenland and Tasmania; you can see the exhibition here.
The colours and atmosphere of that freezing January walk in Vlietland now feel like a distant memory in the first flush of Spring here in The Netherlands, where everything is bursting with life. Fresh greens and yellows, whites and softest pinks are now nature’s palette. Somehow these seem to be reflected in the colours I’m sampling now for the cushion fabric – the rich brown of the natural sheep’s fleece is the colour of the fields ploughed and ready for crops to be planted that I saw while in Drenthe just last week, and other samples incorporate soft greens and off white, the colour of the frothy hawthorn blossom appearing in the hedgerows.
Thank you for joining me on my journey through the year. I hope to see you here again for my next blog in May.
With warm April wishes, Veronica