M​irjam Veldhuis

Essay by Sian Bonnell, Artist 


What attracts me to Mirjam’s work is her bad behaviour; in this respect we are kindred spirits.

Around 5 years ago, Mirjam made the first of her sculptures in the series Basic Ceramics. 
These pieces reminded me very much of the real fundamentals of ceramics; cooking and baking. In this series, she conveys strongly those primeval instincts we were all born with, for playing with dirt, making something out of nothing, just for the joy of it.

Of course Veldhuis’s sculptures are not just about those things. For me, they are subtle and sophisticated 
poetic forms where she succeeds in making clay do the impossible. It’s a bit like building a house of cards, 
any moment the delicate arches of clay could collapse and implode but miraculously they never do. 
I like the way I have to hold my breath when faced with one of these forms, the tension invoked by feeling 
that just the act of exhaling could precipitate disaster.

Our friendship, has over the last few years developed into a creative relationship. When you visit Mirjam’s studio she invariably lays her pieces out on the floor, in order to view all of them. This produces a completely different viewpoint (in a gallery situation small sculptures are often placed on plinths) one feels as though one is circling a section of coastline or looking down on the landscape from a great height. I am intrigued with the way her work produces this reaction in me but in fact the landscape is a strong reference in her thinking. 
This has begun a process of sharing between us. 
I have sent her postcards of the Dorset coast, where I live, which reminds me of her work (yes, it is that way around) and in turn she has made ceramic objects for me to incorporate into my own work. 
And she introduced me to the tulip vase, and for that alone I am eternally grateful. 

Mirjam once told me, that she is very influenced by 18th century English ceramics and it is true, those influences can be seen in the colour of her glazes and also in the shapes of the arched forms. They come from the bower pieces so popular of that period, and when she leaves the clay black, raw and unglazed, they do indeed resemble a quiet branchy corner of an English garden. Now that she has begun to work with porcelain the forms have become refined and pale with glazes in the softest of colours. 
Her pieces are now totally polite and utterly rude.

Sian Bonnell, February 2004