Saturday, 10 October 2009

snippets from my Amsterdam sketchbook

I have just returned from visiting Dan in Amsterdam...and it was so hard to leave. I want to live there. It is so beautiful. Me and my little bicycle would be so happy there.

While I was there we visited the Van Gogh Museum, and were particularly surprised by his Japanese influenced paintings (which we hadn't really seen before), but not so impressed with the layout of the gallery which meant you had to skip anything near the corners because they got so crowded. I suppose that is always an issue with galleries housing very famous works though. Van Gogh's letters can now be viewed online here.

We also popped into FOAM (the Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam) which had a really interesting exhibition of Leonie Purchas's work "In the Shadow of Things" exploring very honestly and intimately her mother Bron's OCD and its effect on her family. There was a huge range of work involved, from christmas family photographs from Leonie's childhood, as well as handwritten lists from family members and a film of around 12 minutes made up of stills of their home life. Slides were projected in a dark room, along with headsets to listen to family members talking about their experiences. It was really fascinating.
There was also a
n exhibition of Charlotte Dumas' photographs of animals, particularly dogs (entitled "Paradis") which had eyes so human and expressive.

I had a wander to a little artist bookshop called Boekie Woekie which was full of a large variety of handmade books. However, there weren't that many illustrated books, which is what I was hoping for (I suspect there were lots I overlooked, there are bookcases crammed full of little books) They were mostly text-based and in Dutch. There was one set of books which really stood out for me - 3 little concertina books, of around A6 size, with wooden covers and screenprinted illustrations inside. They were utterly lovely.

I also we
nt to Huis Marseille which was showing a retrospective of Fazal Sheik's photographs, particularly focused on his portraits of refugees. I particularly liked this photograph which followed on from a whole wall of portraits of women dressed in pattered materials and headscarves - the various patterned markings on the doves seemed to mimic their clothes.

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