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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).

December 30, 2021,

Dear all,

I am writing this letter from the train on my way home from Ghent. I have been visiting a friend there who has decided to move here after our graduation. At the moment I still live in Arnhem, I have a spacious studio on the quay overlooking the Rhine, and I work three days a week as a garbage collector. The other four days I try to spend as much time as possible in the studio.

I too struggle with finding the right balance, although I have never been good at this.
It is sometimes difficult to stay productive and focused when you have another job on the side, I think this is a sticking point for many young artists. 

I work three days a week as a garbage collector, the other four days I try to spend as much time as possible in the studio

I draw inspiration mainly from everyday life; from finding wonder in everyday things or the narratives of traces left behind. The subtle poetry of daily existence. Working as a garbage collector is sometimes hard and exhausting, but in combination with my practice also very inspiring.

In the early morning, I'll be on the back of the car, marveling at chimneys, strange architecture, high-voltage pylons, construction sites and foul images behind the windows of houses. But also the heavy industries, trucks, forklifts, cranes and dumping grounds where gigantic piles of paper are swept up by bulldozers and pressed into large blocks. Where cats search for mice among large trucks and I write emails from the garbage truck. In addition, the process of creation, destruction and weathering has always been related to my practice. Although I am primarily a studio artist, the connection with the outside world is a core value for my practice, working as a garbage man brings me to small picturesque villages and shows me parts of the city I would otherwise not easily encounter.
It is a kind of childish tendency to want to understand everything but this is still my way of working. I am constantly exploring and using new materials in my work.
I research materials to better understand the world around me. 

Currently I am preparing new work for a solo exhibition in my hometown Tiel. This exhibition will consist of a combination of graduation work and new work and should open at the end of January, although this is uncertain due to the current lockdown. The exhibition has been postponed before due to my own corona while building up. There are still some great things planned but when they happen remains uncertain in these times. 

I research materials to better understand the world around me.

Despite the current corona situation, things are going well and I am slowly finding my way as a young artist, I am happy that my schedule is pretty filled and I continue to make new and experimental work. It is difficult to work towards exhibitions when these are likely to be postponed again. As a young artist you feel the pressure to prove yourself, but I don't get the chance to do so when exhibitions are closed. It feels a bit like my career is on hold at the moment, which is very frustrating. 

All in all I am very happy with where I am now, I just finished a ceramic sculpture that will be the poster for my solo exhibition and I am working on the impossible task of frying my old bicycle. I am very much looking forward to continuing to develop my practice, learning more and more materials and building bigger and more ambitious things. 

My question to you readers and colleagues concerns the topic of wonder. What amazes you most, and where do you draw inspiration from? I look forward to your responses and photos.

Jelle van Kuilenburg 

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