Designkwartier: Design Festival in The Hague

Designkwartier 16-18 May 2014, The Hague

Such design stuff I do want to see! The Design Festival, focused on slow design, food and lifestyle fits perfectly in this neighbourhood, the Zeeheldenkwartier, with its small shops, yoga studios and cafés. It spreads in a few streets, but I can assure you that you can spend a good three hours if you really want to get an idea (to start off with). The designers are present and willing to talk about their creations, in a very clear way; these people are clued up! There are also shops that participate; good chance to visit them, sometimes we are shy to get into a design shop, with the fear that it will be too expensive or not approachable. If you have in mind to carry a budget, think of prices from a few euros to a few hundreds; what you can find, to mention some: stationary, kitchen towels, tables, chairs, toys, rapping paper, ceramics, bags, cakes, plants, and of course decoration stuff that don’t fall under the common categories. Among the ateliers there are also po-up shops and etalage displays in the local businesses.

I got on the bike and went straight to Prins Hendrikplein, to Hotel Sebel to get the map. That’s exactly in the middle of the tour, but you can also find maps on Piet Heinplein, the official starting point. I did not see everything; hope to give it a go again on Sunday. I am curious what the two participating museums have in display.

The following photos are from Piet Heinstraat:


MUUS by fraaiheid

“The first series of MUUS consists of three figures that gratefully adorn the locations where screws were put into the wall”

tables made of one plate by fraaiheid
Wauw shop

Check out the kitchen garden workshop; you may leave with a garden on your bike; I must go back for those courgette plants!

Within Boundaries by Maarten Schenkeveld

Plaster vases made with a special technique; in the presentation, we get to see the result, the process (through a video projection) and the materials used as well

futuristic film at the basement

Futuristic films by Floris Kaayk at the basement of #2 De Besturing; I missed a bench or something to sit (good idea?)

Piet Heinplein: the starting point
Coupe Soleil by designer Heetman Patijn

In the pop-up shop of Cor-unum Contemporary ceramics

The Fine Store

…with fine things: ceramics, fabrics and some very special jewellery pieces

at the etalage of hairdress salon “Il Mundo Kappers”

Landschap in uitvoering by Sander Boeijink, Nienke Sybrandy and Jeroen Wand van Grondvormen

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Impressions from the Open Ateliers weekend

Open Ateliers Den Haag, 6-7 October 2012

Better late than never, I publish now impressions from that weekend that is already overtaken from other impressions, some rain, wind and two rounds of cheese-pies and cakes from our oven (reaching amateur perfection there).

Around 50 ateliers in the center of The Hague were open but I hardly managed to see my next door neighbors since I was also a host and most of the time quite busy. It was a good weekend; lots of people passed by, many doing the round like a duty, a big number of personal contacts and a few precious strangers with good sense of commenting to the point. Ping An Brouwers, the jewelery maker next door, with his students provided a relaxing atmosphere even with music gigs for the later hours.

What comes out of such an event?

a few sales
potential orders
new contacts and refreshing of old ones
feedback from many people
observing people’s preferences
putting in words what you make
spending a month’s talk reserves

All this is fine, only the days after I had to put the atelier in working mode again and that took extra effort; now it’s time to focus before the next exhausting event. A big thanks to all those who took the challenge of climbing up (and then down) our staircase and especially to those who stayed for a little talk.

photos made mostly by Mickey v.d. Beukel

the ring taking form during this weekend by Steve Silver
Ping An Brouwers with students and clients
Eveline singing beautifully jazz songs
in my studio with Nancy, Filippos and Andreas

Elephants at ‘wijkfeest’ Vrederust

Last Saturday, 18 September, we had an intense session of mingling with colors and children, assisting them with painting with brushes and real paint (!), sometimes for their first time. We were lucky with the weather that allowed us to work outside on the pavement, in front of the windows of the geborgen kamers. It was Koert’s idea (and preparation) to fill up the place with cut out wooden elephants (some 15 of them), which attracted the attention of the neighborhood’s children. The result is exhibited in the space of the geborgen kamers at Ambachtsgaarde 6. For a while, the elephants can be viewed from the window. Big thanks to the ‘wijkberaad’ of Vrederust which invited us to do the workshop, during the year’s ‘feestje’.

I spotted photographs of the whole event at this site:

Here some photographs of the ‘elephants’ workshop

Thank you Madrid

Coming back from a short visit to Madrid, I found a two pages letter from the director of Stroom, Arno van Roosmalen. What a relief! I appreciate his effort to make me understand what Stroom is there for. Slaloming through the words explaining that Stroom is an independent arts center assigned by the city of The Hague to manage the art matters of the city; making clear that artists are recognised or un-recognised as professionals according to criteria that have to do with public achievements, namely sales, subsidies, interviews; and making more than clear that if you work outside the clique, and go ahead to organise your own projects involving other artists, it does not count as involvement in the arts, it is rather for amateurs and hobbyists. In brief, indie can not exist in The Hague. The more he wrote, the more I realised I really have nothing to do with them. Their values are good for “yes master” artists. The only problem remains, and on that Mr. van Roosmalen had nothing to say, that Stroom is a monopoly. Artists outside stroom cannnot rent a municipal low cost atelier, cannot get support for their exhibitions, can hardly participate in stroom subsidised group exhibitions, etc. That is where my anger focuses; otherwise, of course a stichting can hire and fire as it wishes.  I will continue picketing but light hearted from now on. Next one to bother is the ‘cultuurwethouder’ of The Hague.

The unimportance of Stroom stroke me already in the airplane. And then a real city bathed us in sounds of liveliness and struggle/fun (yes, simultaneously). What we saw in Madrid was so uplifting! You know, the big masters are hanged in the museums like eternal martyrs, prickling the people to bring out their best and even more reminding the artists that the goal is still there. Any aim, any comparison and any lesson to be learned stands there. The more you see the more you understand.

Thank you Madrid; once again you filled my lungs with the full air of the city and un-dusted me from the provincialism that sticks on my clothes together with the dampness of The Hague.

in the corridors of museum Reina Sofia

‘de geborgen kamers van Transvaal’ – the book

It is not surprising that a Greek artist together with a Dutch artist grown up outside the Netherlands were treated as intruders when they came back to Holland five years ago. Everyone we knew was telling us that things had changed for the worse in the Dutch common life: unemployement had risen, tolerance had shrank. One would think that the art world is not affected by such things. Indeed, those who know how to work independently do their work under any circumstances. Those who wait for subsidies, have to wait. We landed in Transvaal  and spent three years living and working in houses and streets that have already become images for the National Archive. Our publication project of 2007 can already be seen as documentation of a past chapter of The Hague.
It was printed in Dutch and published on the Internet in Dutch and in English.

excerpt from my chapter “How to survive success”:

‘I became the race horse of the talking media. 581 words per minute was a record that could not be ignored. At last could I talk; listening had suddenly become not applicable, or at least that became my starting point, and very soon my contribution to the rising media era. Again on travelling, on thanks and bravo’s with a fan club and a limousine added, I should be content. However, the more I kept talking during the day, the worse became my sleep. I had no nightmares; only a constantly repeating dream wherein I was walking through the hidden rooms of my life. They were rooms where I once had lived, with furniture and curtains that I couldn’t recognise, empty from people and sounds, every night a new room. Day after day I became obsessed by the hidden rooms trying to identify them. My famous blabla – without losing tempo – became blurred through intervening jumping words of other languages. I went to the psychiatrist seeking a meaning for all this. She generated no meaning but came to me with an advice: “stop talking”.
To my ears that sounded then as “stop smoking”, “stop drinking”, go to the monastery. Instead of that I took off to become an artist.’


Waiting for the barbarians, geborgen kamers 2007

The arts of The Hague are in the hands of an un-skilled career freak

darkhead, S.Kapnissi 2009


Today I give to Arno van Roosmalen a book for self studying: 

“Conversations with professor Y” by L.F.Céline, an old-time classic. 

Quote: “. . . the crowd is already yanking out the trees, turning the Tuileire Gardens into an immense open space! to get a better look at his mug before they cut off his head, oh! ever so gently! with a tiny little blade . . . clown’s end, what they’re waiting for, not so much that he’s a cuckold, insipid pleasure! it’s having him bound to the trestle! or to the wheel! and making him howl there four . . . five hours . . . that’s what lies ahead of the artist! or clown! . . . b’God! . . . he only escapes their conniving brew by even greater cunning, brownnosing, hypocrisy, or by membership in an Academy . . . the big one or the little, or a Sacristy . . . or Political Party . . . just so many risky havens! . . . let’s not kid ourselves! how often they turn out for the worst, those so-called havens! . . . and those “commitments” . . . Great Grief! . . . even for those who have several “connections”! . . . They’re all pacts with the Devil! . . .”

against the stream (tegenstroom), the case of Stroom Den Haag and what the artists of this city have to face

Stroom Den Haag , the euphemism of center of visual arts and architecture,  treats the artists of The Hague as their employees and judges them every couple of years (not all of them and not all under same intervals) according to criteria that mainly have to do with earned incomes and commerciality of the work, but also skills (that one has for some years and then loses them), impact qualities (zeggingskracht) and proven achievements (by this, meaning mostly public assignments). Attached to the financial part is a more widespread issue of Holland where artists hang on subsidies in order to realize their ideas/projects and basically do not go ahead without a subsidy; try to belong to commercial clubs that ensures them a minimum of commercial activity (and also ping-pong bills and receipts back and forth between them to show incomes) and all that exactly to avoid being judged as non-artist (?), non-professional artist (?), an amateur (?). The question marks are addressed to Arno van Roosmalen, director of Stroom.

Stroom Den Haag misuses the authority that the city of The Hague has entrusted them. Arno van Roosmalen, director of Stroom since 2005, uses the money streaming in from the city of The Hague to build his own career as curator. Under pretext of “changing the way people sees art”, he imposes his view of art to the city’s artists instead of supporting theirs, including all those who go along and excluding those who have their own way of thinking.

Stroom Den Haag is an obstacle to the free work of the visual artists of The Hague; artists are requested to comply with the taste and the ideas of the director and his committees (consisted by “fellow” artists and a gallerist!). This is the present  “professionalism testing committee” (toetsingscommissie beroepsmatigheid): Simone van den Heuvel , Maurits van de Laar (the gallerist) , Maarten Schepers , Zagara and Marian Zult .

Stroom Den Haag is a discriminating organization. More on that issue will be written in the near future.

For the ones outside Holland: Stroom Den Haag is the organisation responsible for the visual arts and recently also the architectural matters of the city of The Hague. It is set up as a Stichting (foundation or association) with independent management, but which runs on money subsidized from The Hague. Its mission is to facilitate the work of the visual artists of The Hague by managing the municipal ateliers, the subsidies and the exhibition opportunities. In practice that means that a non-stroom artist can not request a municipal atelier which would be rent at a low price, cannot request a subsidy for his/hers activities and projects, cannot request contribution to exhibition expenses, cannot be listed in the national database for visual artists ( and is not invited to participate in exhibitions because a group exhibition in order to be subsidized by Stroom must have 50% stroom-artists participation.