Exhibitions12 03 2016 — 16 04 2016
FRANCIS WILLEMSTIJN Waaker - Slaaper - Droomer
In the Dutch Republic during the seventeenth century commerce prospered and in its wake the arts, but also printing and cartography had their heyday at that time. The maps made by the Blaeu family were world renowned; their Atlas Mayor was a status symbol par excellence. Those maps were not only practical for navigation, but they also gave people grip on the world in which they lived; how their native soil was part of a bigger entity.
Francis Willemstijn often ventured into the past through her jewellery. She already used her own family tree as a means of transportation and employed the stones and building materials she dug up around her house to connect with days gone by. With her new jewellery pieces the journey into history almost gets practical support. Willemstijn developed a system to transfer old maps to wooden surfaces, which she subsequently applies in her work enhancing its associative quality.
Those charts illustrate how centuries ago land was claimed from the sea and how the landscape of Holland was defined by transportation and safety measures. The simultaneous urge to expand and to protect the country resulted sometimes in the construction several dykes in rapid succession, each situated parallel to the other. The most important one - de Waaker (the alert one) - lay next to the sea, the older dyke - de Slaaper (the sleeper)- was behind it, functioning as an extra safeguard and occasionally there even was a third one - de Droomer (the dreamer).
The means of expression which Francis Willemstijn chooses for her work are always quite remarkable. This time she literally extracted soil from the old dykes and incorporated it in some jewellery pieces. In a very different vein she contrasted twenty-first century satellite cartography with historic maps. In the resulting jewellery pieces, several regions only consist of a delicate lacework of roads and waterways. They were meticulously sawed out of new-silver - by now Willemstijn's signature technique. It is almost as if history is dissolving in front of your eyes; as if access to the past will always remain an illusion...
(© Galerie Rob Koudijs)