Ode to an artist


Jan Mankes artists project auction for Museum Belvédère

I run on a regular basis and last year I kept seeing the entrance to a nature area next to my track. 
Every time I ran past I noticed the entrance gate and a sign next to it. This was new because previously the area was closed to the public since it used to be a private area. Actually it still was but the owners had decided to open it up to the public. You could now walk there freely from sunrise to sunset.

So one day I decided to go there and have a look. 
The area is located in the polder just around the corner from where I live. At the entrance there is a wooden fence and a yellow sign that says Swamp and Forest. Behind it is a very silent and almost secret swampy landscape. A beautiful small area but this first time I was there I did not feel the need to make any pictures.

Until earlier this year when I found a parcel in my mailbox.
In there was a small board and a picture of a painting by Jan Mankes (1889-1920). It turned out to be from Museum Belvédère where I participated in an exhibition the year before. They asked me and with me more than 130 fellow artists to make an ode to this painting (1914) of a ditch with overhanging heather. The museum had recently acquired this work of Jan Mankes and that was the reason for this project. The ode had to be the same size as the board which was in the parcel and is also the size of the painting, 29,5 x 23 cm.

The works would be exhibited together with the original painting in the museum. 
Afterwards the works would be auctioned and the benefits would go to the museum.
I liked the invitation so I started working on it.

When I saw the image of the painting for the first time I felt some recognition in his way of looking at a subject like this.
There is so much to see and experience in simple things like this ditch which is showing the beauty of everyday nature.
It is a ditch around the corner from where the painter lived at the time.

That’s when I decided to make my ode in the almost hidden “Swamp and Forest” landscape around the corner from where I live.
At sunrise I put down a pinhole camera (my usual homemade black box with only a tiny little hole in it)  at the edge of a small pond. I put it in the middle of the vegetation at the waterfront to hide it a little bit. It almost felt like trespassing since it was a private area and I didn’t put a note on the camera as usual.

At sunset when I picked up the camera again, I saw that it had sunk deeper into the vegetation.
I considered the image as lost. I developed the image though and scanned it and as often I wasn’t to happy with it in the first place.
I left it and decided to redo it later on.

But after a few weeks looking at the image every now and then I slowly started to like it.
The path of the sun which appears to be almost horizontal. The broken line showing that it was cloudy from time to time and the chaotic vegetation. This photo should be my ode.

Slootje met overhangende dopheide, Jan Mankes

The painting of Jan Mankes

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