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, 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.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stuff Up's

It is actually quiet refreshing seeing Tejo and Rene stuff up there design jobs. I am continually making mistakes and the studio. Having to remake frames or re-cut objects because they are not the right size. It is all part of the learning curve, but very frustrating at the same time.

To see older more experienced people muck up their design work, lets me breath a sigh of relief. Dad put it well, he said something along the lines of.. The only difference between you young guys is and us old blokes is that we have stuffed up on more occasions and have built up a bank of mistakes which we have learnt from.

Anyway, the other day Tejo was already to pour the concrete into the plastic mould he had been making for an outdoor, concrete seating piece. This piece was pretty well tried and tested, Rene and Tejo making a few of these benches for an exhibition in Miami late last year. Just a few minor changes were made to the volume in the legs and the material used in the upper half of the mould. It had taken him a week of tinkering to get the frame welded, work out the new geometry of the legs on the piece, sew up the plastic liner and prepare the mould ready for pouring.

Anyway, when it came to concreting I got to chip in and help out a bit. We were almost complete with filling the mould with concrete, when the sewn seems started to rip under the pressure of the concrete. Small leaks grew into large leaks. I was running around the studio madly cutting strips of rubber to wrap around the gaping wound. After repairing the rip we still needed to pour more concrete to create a completed piece. So we pushed on ahead and low and behold the seams ripped on another leg and we had another rapid repair job on the mould. The studio was covered in wet concrete. It was a bit of a disastrous pour.

So I suppose I will take comfort in the fact that the learning curve will continue, even until I am considered an old girl!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

- 21 Degrees Celsius

The studio complex where Rene and Tejo have there studio are having an open day on the 19th of June. Each studio has been delegated a different task to work on. Our task is to design a bar. Rene is dead keen on building an ice bar... in the outdoors.. in the middle of the European Summer. It is going to Stone Henge in Ice! He is totally convinced it is a great idea. So we have been running trials in the small freezer and the studio, making locking type mechanisms in ice. Making ice cups, to serve up drinks in etc.

Today we visited his mates factory that stores all the refrigerated and Frozen foods for the biggest Grocery Store in Holland- Albert Hejin. The freezer is the size of a massive industrial warehouse. It sits at a nasty - 21 degrees. We stuck a wheelie bin in the freezer, with a dividing wall placed down the centre to trial out making Stone Henge Blocks.
I think this is the coolest temperature I have ever been in! Thank christ for the boofy jacket.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Searching for some space

When you live in a place you never usually stand back and consider it’s defining characteristics. We are told that Perth is the most isolated city in the world. Coming from Denmark on the south coast, this was a very isolated place. I never really took much notice of these characteristics until now. Living in remotes places is just a way of life. This remote landscape gives you a sense of freedom and at times can be threatening. These characteristic of Australia have had a massive influence on our art and culture, which I only fully understand now.

It is only now that I am in Holland living in highly densily populated country that I find myself searching for some isolation. I am finding myself wanting to drive for a couple of 100 km’s and not to see any development. I want to find a forest I can wander about in. I am a little hard pressed to find this feeling of remoteness here in Europe.

Today I travelled 2 hours by train, 1 hour by bus and 1 hour by ferry to the Fresian Island, Ameland. I packed a small pack for the night, with a few nuts and biscuits. I wasn’t sure what type of island I was heading to, so I ate modestly and considered that I might be returning from an isolated island fairly hungry. As it turned out there was food on the island and lots of development. But walking along an expanse of sandy beach for 2 hours gave me that feeling I was searching for.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prototype Number 4

The concrete chair prototyping continues, we are on to prototype number 4. The wooden clamps are gradually becoming rougher and rougher as the parts to the mould get treated as a ‘work in progress.’ Gradually I am cutting away at the pieces to modify details of the piece. The shape of the piece is becoming refined and the edge finish is being experimented with.

This internship is teaching me to preserver. I generally have a tendency to jump from one idea to the next. This task of refining the concrete stool is a good lesson I can take home and use on my own work.

I am enjoying making the most out of Tejo and Rene’s fully equipped workshop, they are stocked up with every tool you could want. Each corner of the studio you can find a stash of materials. This is another thing that is lacking in my studio at home. I need to start investing in more tools so I have the liberty to diversify the projects that I am working on. Whenever I get cracking on a project at home I am continually faced with the dilemma of a lack of tools, space and the money to invest in materials.

For now I will lap up the use of this decked out studio in Holland!

Monday, May 16, 2011

What is it like to be a bird

Everyday when I head to work I cycle past this old farmhouse, which is stuck between the freeway to Amsterdam and the canal. The first time I saw the space from afar I thought it had a really erie feeling.

Anyway, this weekend there was an art exhibition at the space. The old stables and farmhouse had been converted into a temporary exhibition space… showing my old favorite… video installations. Anyway, it was quite strange staring at a video project down a hallway, between two horse stables. At the same time as watching a film on chickens I had two horses staring at me. The horses started to get a bit reared up with there company. I wasn’t sure if they wanted a pat or if they wanted us to piss off.

Anyway, the most interesting work I just about totally dismissed. There was a sign asking if I wanted to be a bird. The thought of acting out being a bird, didn’t really sound up alley. All the theatrical talents went to my sisters.

Anyway, on recommendation from someone else at the exhibition I went back to the booth shaped like a birdhouse. This artist Thija van Vuure is a selft taught artist and biologist. Through his work he began to study different bird species calls. He takes sound and video recordings of different Dutch Birds. He then explored the idea of slowing the sound speed of the bird call to a human life length. From this he discovered it was possible for humans to imitate a bird-call. So you head into the small intimate birdhouse booth, feeling like a real idiot you imitate the sounds of the bird call. The artist then speeds these recordings up to the speed of the short birds life span. From this the human bird call is born… for a whole audience on the outside of the booth to watch you make a real dick of yourself making a bird call.

Luckily we haven’t been posted on U-tube… but there are a few others on Thija’s webpage.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sammlung Boros Collection

On Saturday I took a tour of the Sammalung Boros art collection, which is situated in a bunker in Berlin- Mitte. I signed myself up for a one and half hour tour in German. This was slightly painful… but it was my only way to view the contemporary art collection. The three English tours during the day were all booked up. I thought art being such a visual thing than that the context would not matter that much.

The Sammalung Boros collection is a private Contemporary art collection that was set up by communication designer Christian Boros. His collection of art has been situated in the bunker since 2008. The function of the Bunker has often changed in the past. It served as a shelter, prison, fruit storage, techno club and is currently a private art museum.

This coloured history of the building creates a very spectacular area to display art. The compartmentalised rooms give each piece a dedicated and private viewing space. The bombing marks on the exterior of the building and the rustic paint surface on the interior walls gives the gallery space eliminates any austere feeling that the gallery may have.

At the Gallery I was probably most impressed by the work by Olfar Eliasson. The opening work in the gallery ‘Berlin Colour Sphere’ is a spectacular lighting piece made from a number of iridescent glass pieces. The light reflects a sphere of geometric colour into the room. As you move around the gallery seeing the piece from aerial angles the colour of the glass becomes more opaque.

Eliasson also has another installation in an upper room in the gallery. The room gradually transforms through a spectrum of different colours. The beauty in the piece is revealed behind the scrim spanning a good way across the room. Behind the scrim is whole series of halogen lights beaming different colours through their attached filters. These lights must be attached to dimmers, which control the amount of light and alter the mixture of colour in the room.

The Boros Collection has commissioned a number of contemporary artists to create site-specific works. Some of these works have been built to fit into difficult working spaces. Tight prison like cells, have geometric forms crawling between the different rooms.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Arthouse Tacheles

When I moved into the Midland Junction Studios about a year and half ago, I thought I was moving into the ghetto. It took about 2 days to clean up and make a 20 sqm space look decent enough to call it an art studio.

But I have taken a rain check on Titling the Midland Junction studios a Ghetto after visiting the Tacheles art centre in the centre of Berlin. Everywhere I walked in these studios I got a wiff of old urine. Along the hallway and entrance to the studio was covered in graffitti. Artist who worked in the spaces had taken a bit more effort in cleaning up there spaces, but the whole place had a bit of a grungy, dirty vibe.

The building used to be a part of a Jewish quarter in the city. In WWII the space was overtaken by Nazi administration. The derelict building was overtaken by artist in 1999, there are 20 + artists working from the space.

The studios had a bit of a strange vibe, each artists set there own rules, some charged to enter to have a look at there work, others charged if you took a photograph, and some artists were just happy to have wonder in an check out your work. It seemed like they all needed to make a consensus decision on payment and sit one person at the front of the art centre if they wanted to charge an entry fee. Anyway, I felt like a bit of a tight arse squirming over a couple of Euro when i had been forking out 10 odd Euro for every gallery i entered in Berlin.

As for the artwork, I wasn't totally impressed, maybe the commercialisation of the studios made me a bit weary. But if you are kicking around Berlin it is worth a look.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hamburger Bahnhof

I never thought that I would fall asleep in an Art Gallery, but I did the other day! I am truly following in my mothers sleeping foot steps, which is slightly depressing. My mother once fell asleep in the middle of a telephone conversation.

Anyway, I was so mesmerized by some video art, and the comfy cinema like setup that I dozed off for a while. I woke up to a much larger audience of viewers and wondered how long I had been there?

Anyway, this all happened on my visit to Hamburger Banhof in Berlin, Germany. Hamburger Banhof is a railway station that has been converted into a massive art gallery. The space is a beautiful setting for a gallery. Big high ceilings has allowed for a spacious display of large artworks. It is worth a visit to this gallery just to see how well the artworks fit in the context of the gallery.

The most impressive artwork for me was an installation by Richard Long, an English artist. The work was made up of a series of natural objects, like stones, mud, decaying wood and pebbles. These various natural objects have been meticulously laid out into geometric shapes. The scale of the works is very stricking.

As for the rest of the gallery, I found it very conceptual. Conceptual art doesn’t exactly float my boat that much. There were so many video installations I went to sleep!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Abstract Interpretation of History

Today I visited the Jewish museum in Berlin, Germany. I expected to leave, having a very depressing experience. However, thankfully the curators of the museum had taken an abstract approach to presenting the tragic history of the Jews in Germany.

Daniel Libeskind has designed a very impressive piece of architecture to house this important history. The building is very unconventional; the space has many harsh linear lines running through the building. The space is filled with angled windows, cold harsh concrete and is cladded in a dull zinc alum surface. The ground floor museum space has uneven surfaced floors, there is no such thing as way finding through this museum space.

Tucked in various corners of the museum space are different voids, which gives a visitor a censory experience of the Jewish German History.

One of the voids is a triangulated space that is cold and dark inside. The roof towers 20 meters above you. Halfway up the wall is a ladder, which is unreachable. In the corner of the room at the very top of the space is a small channel of light seeping into the room.

Another one of the spaces is filled with heavy metal dics, with simplified faces cut into the discs. Visitors to the museum walk over the cobbled metal discs, which creates this discordant sound resonating in the void space.

I was really glad I overcome my fears of becoming too depressed at the idea of visiting the Jewish museum. The contemporary approach taken to present this history was very eye opening. So often in Australia, history is exhibited so

literally. The Jewish German history is very well known, it is nice to see a sensitive approach has been taken to present it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Losing my fan base!

Yesterday I lost my biggest fan base. Nan has been the biggest fan of her 11 Grandchildren’s artistic achievements. She enthusiastically attended art exhibitions, performances and concerts. Not only was she a supporter she was our best marketing promotions woman around. She would litter her coffee table with newspaper cut outs and proudly tell every visitor to the house about the current projects in the making.

Nan also graciously gave up her house for many an art project. Back in the Summer of 2010 my sculptural piece Spinifex outgrew my studio space. So I took up Artist in Residence at Nanna Shirls place in Darlington for about three weeks.

What a Nan, putting up with her garage being turned into the welding shed. The Back room was the pod threading station. The verandah became the temporary photography studio. As the temperatures soared Nan gradually let the art project creep into the house, getting closer to the air conditioner.

It must have taken a fair bit of tolerance to have a granddaughter come and be your artist in residence. Nevertheless the support kept flowing. At 9 pm at night just before nan popped off to bed, she would come out with a plate of sweets to keep my sugar levels up so I could power on through the night and finish this piece in time for the exhibition.

So after many a cup of tea, conversation and plates of sweets Spinifex was finally complete. We took the piece to Cottesloe and exhibited it for 3 weeks. Unfortunately it has taken until now to sell the work, and Nan has kindly allowed me to turn her back yard into Sculpture park, looking after the work until the right buyer came about.

Anyway, Nanna Shirl is going to be fondly remembered for her support of the Pepper art projects.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tensioned Concrete mould

This is the outcome from Friday's concrete pour. The plastic flexible mould was created without any sewing. It was all held together by clamps. This makes the mould reusable.

The piece still needs refinements, but an interesting piece to be experimenting with.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Queens Day

A sea of orange flooded the Netherlands this weekend. The streets were filled with coloured flags lining the streets. Lots of People made a big effort to dress ridiculously in some sort of Orange outfit. This was all in the name of Queens Day, the biggest annual celebration in the Netherlands.

The streets also turn into one big jumble sale. Queens day is a good excuse to clean out the house and sell all the junk laying around your house. As the selling starts so do the small house parties, which then converges into one big street party. It was an amazing atmosphere I have not really experience before.

Me and my hoarding habits, meant that I couldn’t resist the bargains lining the streets. The first night I picked up a toaster and air mattress to make for a homely environment when my Australia visitors hit town.

Then day two in Delft, I bought some very bright looking sneakers to get my exercise on. I also spotted a very nice pair of cycling shoes for my dad, fingers crossed they fit.

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