Slow down

  • launch

In this section, six young visual artists who graduated from an art school in the Netherlands in 2021 write letters to each other telling how starting their lives as visual artists is going for them and what they are working on. Taking turns, one of the six artists writes to the others what is on his or her mind. The artists who participate in this column are: Lauren Raaijmakers (WdKA graduate), Leonie Fernhout (WdKA), Jelle van Kuilenburg (ArtEZ), Repelsteeltje (WdKA), Hannah Meijer (HKU) and Loes van Reijmersdal (St. Joost).

May 7, 2022, Den Bosch

Dear all,

Writing letters, who does that anymore? I do love it. Sending friends and family a card, a letter or a small piece of art by mail. Something you have to take your time for and preferably not digitally, that is also the basis of my art practice. Slowing down, going against the speed we live at, even if it's just with something so small.

I write mostly to my father, those letters are often very chaotic, where I scribble 'just a little more this' and 'just a little more that' somewhere in between in a notebook. Sometimes I get so busy that I forget to write to him, and then have to 'make up' time to keep him updated. My father passed away in August 2019, in the middle of my academy period. Despite that, I chose to be able to graduate with my class at all costs.

I could not get a better confirmation of my choice to become a visual artist.

Right after that, I started an Artist-in-Residence in Breda, organized by Stedelijk Museum Breda, Van Gogh AIR and St. Joost. My start as an artist could not have started better. I enjoyed this period immensely. I could not get a better confirmation of my choice to become an artist.

Soon after, I also experienced all the other circumstances I had chosen. Like Hannah, I was doing everything but making art. I decided to work full-time, to leave the financial stress behind for a while. That developed into sometimes working two hundred hours a month. The longer this period went on, the more I longed to spend one day in my studio, which was very frustrating. I told myself that after this busy period I had saved enough to follow my dreams as an artist and grow as a tattoo artist. I had after all (funny, this word my father always used, otherwise I rarely hear anyone say it anymore), already a studio together with a classmate, where, under graduation, we converted a section into our tattoo studio, Reason Ink. Everything was ready to start working on my dreams, just not me apparently. In February I collapsed. I had no time for my social life, was in the middle of a move, my mourning process and suffered from mental complaints. I read it almost every month in your letters 'taking rest, seeking balance', yet it didn't dawn on me in time. Your letters helped me to see that everyone is searching to shape this phase of our lives.

I decided to work full-time, to leave the financial stress behind for a while.

Looking back on the past six months, everything is falling into place. The fact that I was now "falling down" was not for nothing. I have a holistic view of life, which also translates into my art. Characteristic of my work are flowers. They symbolize strength, comfort and inspiration, I use them as a metaphor for the circle of life. Dynamic patterns, contrasts and contradictions show a process of uprooting, withering, recovering, growing and blooming. Furthermore, I look for slowing down in my work process. I use time-consuming techniques such as etching, gouging, tattooing and walking, looking for inspiration in my surroundings. Physical actions and zooming in and out from detail to whole, lead to a super focus. With all these 'ingredients' I get into a kind of meditative state of being and work best.

Your letters helped me to see that everyone is searching to shape this phase of our lives.

Currently I am working on my health and focusing on the things that give me energy. Either way, I am grateful for my path, the lessons, experiences and daring to choose an artist's life. Like the flowers in my work, I am searching for the right soil to take root and blossom. Slowly I am beginning to find that soil. Recently I started giving painting and drawing workshops, and recently I had a group exhibition. I work a bit in my studio and I am in the tattoo studio every week to develop my skills further (see picture). If you would like to make yourself available as a practice canvas, I would love to hear from you. And finally, I received some surprising news this week! I've been nominated for the Buning Brongers Prizes, and selected for Blind Walls Open Call.

I work a bit in my studio and I'm at the tattoo studio weekly to further develop my skills (see photo). If you would like to make yourself available as a practice canvas, I would love to hear from you.

How do you deal with periods when you are not able to work in your studio, and how do you pick up your thread? I am looking forward to your reactions via redactie@bk-info.nl. Love, Loes Please send your response to redactie@bk-info.nl

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