Self Portrait

Self Portrait
Holly Pepper

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Currently I am undertaking an internship in Utrecht, Netherlands with the renowned design team consisting of Tejo Remy + Rene Veenhuizen. Through this blog I plan to document my design experience in Holland.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Struktuur 68

Last week I visited Struktuur 68, a ceramic studio in Den Haag. This ceramic factory specialises in assisting public artwork artists to create large-scale ceramic works. It was very impressive to the scale of some of the works being created in the studio. Some of the sculptures towered almost 3 to 4 meters tall. But the staff reassured me that they just use 15th century techniques to create their ceramic work. Struktuur 68 has been operating since 1968, providing ceramic assistance and expertise to ceramic artists projects.

I went to check out Tanja Smeets public artwork piece. She is developing a large-scale works of flowing organic, Chinese soup spoons. The original free flowing artwork, developed originally from hand sculpting spoons has been developed into a process based, manufactured work at Struktuur 68. The streamlining of the creation of the work has meant that Smeet can develop the large work with greater speed and accuracy. Firstly the Chinese spoons have been created using 3 dimensional modeling techniques. These foam pieces have been cast, the plaster moulds are then used to stamp out the multiple ceramic versions of the spoons. Smeet then hand joins the ceramic pieces together, of which there are 23 pieces to create for this particular art project.

It was interesting to see the transformation of the working process when working on a large scale. The artistic process becomes more industrial; the artist becomes slightly detached from the creation of the work. However, it is also reassuring to see the same techniques that I use to teach high school ceramic students to create smaller sculptures are still relevant at such a huge scale.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Ice Bar

Last week we had the Uranus Culture Lab open day. I was very impressed with the amount of effort that went into making such a great event. There was lots of good food, live music, art auctions and even an abseiling event for kids visiting for the event.
Unfortunately the weather was pretty terrible, so all the different studio's scrabbled togethor at the last minute to pull together big marques to host the event in. As for the ice bar, well the weather worked in our favour. The bar lasted the entire day, just with one minor incident with one of ice buckets breaking apart midway through the day. Anyway, check out the pictures below or visit the Culture Lab webpage to see a bit more of the event.

Oerol 2011

The Pepper’s having been getting back to there hippy Denmark roots over the past couple of days. We have taken up residency at the Nature camp in Hoorn, Terschelling. Terschelling is an island off the North coast of the Netherlands. Each year a 10 day performance festival is held in late June called the Oereol Festival.

The island gets so packed out with arts enthusiasts that your only option is to camp. Luckily with a bit of old experience my parents and I managed to cope camping in pretty wet and windy conditions. We entertain ourselves in the Dutch way, attempting to milk three cups of tea out of one bag… saving napkins from the odd café visit for our toilet visits at the nature cam


Camping aside I was most impressed to arrive at the main festival site to find a paddock full of bikes. In Australia you would find a never-ending sea of cars parked in paddocks surrounding a festival. Instead in Terschelling you get lost in the sea of bikes.

Our choices for performances were narrowed down a bit with our lack of Dutch. I have attempted visiting the theatre in Utrecht, seeing a play in Dutch and was absolutely bored shitless, so I wasn’t about to try that one again.

So first show we saw was Propaganda, by an Australian group called Acrobat. It was nice to experience a bit of Australian humour in a circus context. These guys managed to successfully intertwine a serious anti-capitalist message into their show with a dash of humour and with some very impressive circus tricks. I was really impressed with the final scene when both the couple performing in the show changed my impression on a fixed wheel bike. Prior to the show I thought they were the dumbest invention out. However, this acrobatic couple managed pull off some very impressive tricks as the bike circled around the tent.

At the end of the performance the predominantly Dutch audience gave the family circus group a standing ovation… I developed a little sense of patriotism at this moment proud that this group had managed to crack it big time in Europe.

The second show we watched was a interactive audio play. We were mainly attracted to experience Domini Public, by Roger Bernat because this style of show is the next production pending for my sister Zoe. So we thought we would do a little of audience research for her. The play required each audience having a headset, we were asked a number of questions in a public square in West Terschelling, answering the questions required us to move around the space, taking on different poses. Through the sequence of questions the audience were identified as different characters in the show, allowing each audience member to assume a role in the show. Over the course of the hour long show the plot was revealed. However, the lack of theatrical train in the audience meant we did a fairly terrible job and at rein acting the massacre scene that evolved.

Nevertheless a pretty worthwhile show to attend.

We went to one other show called the Peking Opera, which I won’t bore you with the details. It was like going to a Denmark Pantomime. It was an absolutely terrible show that I wouldn’t recommend.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Uranus Culture Lab Open Day

Kroller Muller Museum- Jan Fabre Exhibition

I just have two weeks of my internship left. It feels as though I am trying to pack a lot of travel into the last few weeks. In the last two weeks I have been to Venice to see the Biennale and to Sweden to visit a good friend from back in the University days.

I am now in the process of entertaining my parents who are visiting Holland for a few weeks. I have just sent them off on a cycling trip to Arnhem, which is what reminded me that I needed to post about my visit to the Kroller Muller museum

The Kroller Muller museum is a very impressive gallery in the middle of the Hogue Veluwe National park. It is the last place that you would expect to find such a good museum. You can be cycling through some very diverse nature for 15 kilometers or so and then come across this gallery which holds many works of Van Gough’s and Rembrant in there collection. Originally the museum collection was privately owned by wealth art collectors Helen + Anton Kroller. The couple owned a 12,000 piece collection with over 200 paintings of Van Gough’s. However, the came across financial troubles and risked losing there collection to debt collectors. So the couple donated the works and National Park to the Dutch government in1935, who have maintained the collection ever since

Currently the museum is showing a major exhibition of Jan Fabre’s sculptural works in an exhibition titled Hortus/Corpus. Fabre is a Belgian multidisciplinary artist who currently has many sculptural works on display at the Kroller Muller museum. A diverse range of materials are employed in the works. I was most impressed by the large-scale works created from jewel-scarab wing cases. The metallic wing cases, change in colour as you gain a different perspective on the work. Ranging from a luminescent green to a deep royal blue.

Filling the centre of the large sculpture gallery space is a work titled “I had to demolish a part of the ceiling of the royal palace because there was something growing out of it (2008.”

This is a large scale works inspired from the piece developed for the ceiling of the Belgium royal’s. The piece took over 2 million bug shells to create the work. The exhibition piece references the black pages in Belgium’s Colonial history. The scale and realism in the piece, creates a very strong and impacting work.

The exhibition continues on for rooms + rooms and spills out into the large outdoor sculptural display at the national park. The works use materials ranging from glass, steel, ceramics, + gold. Many of the works reference the scarab wing cases, whether it be employing this as a medium or using the shape as an influence on the form of other works.

Anyway, if you are kicking around in Holland I would highly recommend that you visit the museum. It is totally worth the drive.

Monday, May 30, 2011

EKWC Den Bosch

While I have been in Holland I have been very fortunate to be taken out to different arts events around Holland by Tejo and his partner Tanja. I really appreciate the effort these guys have made to help discover the arts in The Netherlands.

Anyway, a few weeks ago Tanja took me to EKWC, a ceramic artist in residence in Den Bosch, in the South of Holland. EKWC was a very impressive facility. It is equipped with a range of different gas and electric kilns, spray booths, plastering rooms, 3 D printing machines, and very organised Glaze library. On top a of a great facility there are about 8-12 different specialized ceramic technicians who can assist artist in residence with there technical knowledge of ceramics.

Tanja has just completed a residence at EKWC. The residencies are for a three month intensive period. Artists live at the studios and totally engross themselves in developing ceramic objects. Tanja described the obsession she developed for ceramics, during the residency period.

The best bit is you don’t have to know a thing about ceramics before you take up a residency here. EKWC wants there artists in residence to be experimental with the development of there ceramic forms.

So if you are interested in ceramics and looking for a residency experience this may be the place to apply too.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Searching for the Strand Beest

I don’t get excited about many things, but I was pretty excited about the prospect of going to check out Theo Jansen’s latest kinetic sculpture on the beach. For the past few weeks I have been checking out his webpage at lunch time at work. I bloody hate lunch here. I feel like the biggest dick not being able to partake in the purely Dutch conversation. So instead of trying to look interested in my sandwich, I kept zoning out to the Strandbeest webpage… dreaming of the day I got to see this work in the flesh.

Anyway, the weekend arrived, I was all set for the sculpture viewing, in The Hague. I got to the beach it was pissing with rain. The wind was howling like a dog. I had met this random guy in the city earlier on, I was a bit cautious of him to begin with. But without his help I probably wouldn’t have found the beach. He also had an electric fold up bike, he was very keen to show me, so the wind was a lot easier to battle with his bike. While this poor guy, battled along my rickety old bike, he also had a real hatred of rain, so every couple of kilometers we would travel he would stop and wipe down his jacket with a reem of paper towel.

Anyway, the rain got to much for my mate, so we farewelled each other and I trundled along on my old bike for another couple of hours, pulling into each beach café to asking some random, weather they had seen a sculpture walking down the beach. Did they know where the beaufort scale was sitting at today? Some very random questions.

Anyway, windswept and cold I gave up on my search for the strandbeest.

Midland Atelier

Midland Atelier
The Water Tower Studio.

The Water Tower View

The Floor Mat

The Floor Mat
This is an organic looking floor mat I am creating. It was inspired by mold crawling up the wall