M​irjam Veldhuis

Essay by Isabel Hufschmidt, Curator and Researcher

That woman…   

She is that woman who hates dogs and is disgusted by the sandy beach, the sunny sandy beach. She is that woman who wears a necklace with a rose dog pooping.   

She is that woman I got to know just 5 years ago, July 2012, in Cardiff/Wales, when I was supposed to hold a lecture on the occasion of the symposium Ceramics and Sculpture. Disciplines and Shared Concerns at the National Museum of Wales.   

It is that friendship that grows slowly and steady, but with a strength that gives a damn on if you are living in the Rhineland and the other in Stadskanaal. The Dutch and German get along quite well. Their obstinacy makes a good kinship.   

Mirjam is the artist I experienced in two different, but essential, spaces. Her studios. I first visited her in 2014 – you can see: long-distance buddies. Mirjam had invited me to write a text about Chris Baaten, a fellow artist from Amsterdam, for whom she curated an exhibition in the Watertoren Stadskanaal. I stayed at Mirjam’s place that she shares with Siebe, a known Dutch sculptor in self-chosen retirement from art. Well, Mirjam had her working space right there in Stadskanaal. At that moment she was about to leave that space as the building was going to be dismantled. In fact, a happy instance for Mirjam, because the space did not fulfill her needs completely. I felt that and she knew it. But there, in Stadskanaal, I saw her works for the first time. Some little and big creatures. In pastel rose, or Japanese green glaze, rough surfaces, soft curves, a wriggling here, a bump there. A little zen garden in light blue. There is black and lilac, too, and wax…ceramics in sculpture should be no surprise or nuisance to anyone…the material comes from the oldest resources of earth man worked with. Earth itself, clay, ground. Its dwindling rather not foreseen. There they are, waiting for their mistress. Will you work on me today? No! No! Me first! No, me! – Calm, calm… Mirjam tells me about her stations in life, her time in Japan and Indonesia.

Then, just months later – it was 2015 already – she sent me images of her new studio. She wrote how happy she is, how creativity is flowing. Best place ever. It took some time and I came for visit again in 2016. And I did not know who takes more pleasure from the new studio. Mirjam or the space itself? A big space, with enough room for storage, the kiln, to arrange the works. Well, just to work. To do the work. The space, its light and extension, I had to admit, surpassed the former studio a thousand times. And I could see Mirjam’s pleasure in being there, at that generous space. And it was not easy not to be seduced by the work she had produced since 2014. She experimented with larger sculptures, too, and her passion for antagonistic glazes and contradictory haptic experiences, had come to the point, had achieved an incomparable ease. The studio of an artist does not care to be an essential collaborator. But it may be. Indeed, no artist studio runs for perfection, for a beauty contest. 
But satisfaction guaranteed…   

Isabel Hufschmidt