Trip Start Jan 31, 2010
141Trip End Jul 21, 2010
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Where I stayed
I don’t give myself a lot of time on it though, the train gets there around eleven and things are starting to pick up a bit before twelve. There are a few maps and street signs that seem to only lead me out of the city, not something I really want to do. Though the book recommends hiring a bike and seeing the outer sights, these will not be as they are in the book, and the top thing to see on my list if the home of one Mondriaan. I get Mondriaan Huis as it’s opening, and the lades behind the counter let me know that saying Gottenmorg (good morning) is actually ok any time of the day, despite the translation. Thank goodness, as I was yet to learn good afternoon
I see the upstairs exhibition first. The Mondriaanhuis has been divided into two sections. One is the original house as Mondriaan kept it when he lived here, the other is a modern extension that houses contemporary exhibitions. Such an exhibition is in place, as of lat night. One amazingly dressed man in checkered shirt and bow tie smiles and talks at me about the way the lights are hitting and how he used to clean the windows o this place and now they let him set up the art and now he’d better go clean the windows. He does clean them very well.
The works are from four abstract artists, who from first glance are heavily influenced by the work of Mondriaan. Martha Scheeren’s work uses the same ideals of strong bright colour, but hers are built up with several layers, creating a ghosting in parts and marking the edges of the shapes appear to blur and glow.
Kees Visser works with textures, his colour palettes dark and dull – deep reds and greens and blues, each with a speckled surface.
Mondriaan lived in a crazy house. The set up of his rooms is amazing - he really surrounded himself with his art. Pieces are hanging from the walls in various points of completion, his bed linen is in primary colours, all things possibly geometric are decidedly so. All this could have only skewed his perspective on things even more, creating the last of his works in this place.
The examples of his work they have in gallery space are a bit of a let down, but this is to be expected, as his most famous works are found in De Haag and other big museums and galleries around the globe
Soon I find myself amongst the throngs of a Saturday food market. The main street nearby has the ringing bells of one of those automatic piano things I saw so many of in the museum yesterday, two kids with coin-collecting cans tapping out a rhythm in time with the music.
I’m sampling the wares – dips, cheeses, olives, all manner of condiments – for good half and hour, laps of certain stalls, listening to the locals comment on the food in tongues I do not understand. In the end I purchase a small tub of the most amazing cranberry eggplant and olive dip/spread/it has another name but I can’t remember it. It’s freaking amazing and I’ve nearly eaten a tub of it with samples so thought it was only fair. The sellers behind the fruit stands are as bad as Melbourne, shouting prices, pretending to get married to one another for the sake of the buyers and gathering audience.
The book mentions a museum that I cannot enter. Known for his writing, painting, poems, prose and violin playing abilities, the museum of Armando caught fire some years ago, and is yet to find a new place of residence. Across the road from this however is the Museum Flehite. The entrance is quite wonderful – the building is situated where several canals meet, I have to cross a bridge to get in. The museum gives a detailed history of the town of Amersfoort as well as housing other exhibitions. One in particular is titled food in crisis. Stylist Monneke Peters and photographer Peete van Spankeren have created a collection of still lifes featuring food and drama. Each images follows the same formula – picturesque meal or edible (fruit, chicken) with crisis visible off to one side (a cracked and open egg, a fruit peeler, a broken piece of bread)
Upstairs the exhibition Eye 2 Eye takes up the whole third floor. Amersfoot has a sister city Liberec, and photographer Roel de Vringer has wanted to show the similarities and differences between the two. Members for the city’s general public in mirrored jobs – the mayor, the janitor, the surgeon – each are photographed in portrait, at their place of work, and doing things they love. These three images sit next to one another, and the viewer is left to see what’s same and different. What I notice the most is the similarity in pets. Two bus drivers have the same breed and colour of the same dog, two surgeons have similar bird life in large cages around their home. I’m not entirely sure if vocation would bring about these pets, but the similarity is there.
Downstairs is a collection of crazy things they thought were cool – old picture books and crazy wooden statues. I agree; some of these things are wicked.
I do a bit of the meander again, finding the walls and makings of the old fortress and canal gates. Pigeons have gathered on the roof of one such building, but only keeping to one corner, their claws struggling to support them on the angled surface. They empty into the sky as I get my camera.
Conscious of time I try to control the meandering back to the station, as I told Robert I’d be back to help with dinner. I think school’s out, as the parks suddenly fill with young kids, beanies and mittens and picnic rugs, throwing Frisbees like American college kids
I get back to Robert’s and we share the wicked fruit spice dip for afternoon tea.
He speaks of plans he has made regarding my visa, that perhaps I should stay with someone else. This someone else is Walter from Swinc. I think this is a great idea, but do not know about rocking the boat in terms of visa. I was granted access from Australia based on my application with Robert’s address, changing this may raise questions about Robert. Walter and myself, keeping me in the Netherlands for longer than I have allowed. I had already expected to have my pass, so suggest this be or back up.
After dinner I head out to find the place Oision told me about at Willem Slok. I stop off at the Café on the way, as there is a blue musician Jan suggested I check out. He is amazing. Very minimal PA, just his voice and his guitar, and he talks like a magician. Every ear hangs on every word, and he uses language like 'friends, it’s like this…". His songs are simple and truly marvelous. Favourite song is one he must make up at least half of every time h pays it – I’m So Broke I Can’t Even Pay Attention. Wicked.
The jam session is under a windmill! Under a windmill!!! Oison is there with about five other young people, a few olders and the guy running name Stephaan. He set up a rehearsal space for bands to practice and thought it would be a great idea to have them meet each other at jam session every month. This is the first. This is amazing. For three hours or so we muck around on instruments both brought and already here. One guy plays sax aa blues guitarist take up most of an hour with wicked riffs. I sing and uke it up, and some crazy guy from here but hasn’t been for ages tells me how fucking wrong everyone is with the youth and their nativity they’re so wrong and naïve they don’t want to know. Oison and I finish up busting out Wagon Wheel, which totally suit his voice.
Stephaan thanks all of us a little after midnight as we pack up. He gets my email and hopes to see me next time. I say probably not, but maybe the one after.
I get another umbrella on the way home, growing from a rubbish bin. Wicked