Eduardo Chillida in the Rijksmuseum Gardens

This year, the sculpture exhibition in the Rijksmuseum gardens features the work of the Spanish Basque artist Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002). He was originally a footballer, playing in goal for Real Sociedad, San Sebastián’s La Liga football team, but serious injury cut his career short.

He studied architecture before becoming a sculptor, and some of his works certainly have an architectural quality.

His work combines modern abstraction with traditional artisanal techniques for working materials, in particular forging iron. He frequently made his numerous and celebrated public works from large-format steel, using the material in a bold and spectacular fashion, with utter disregard for its innate constraints. Chillida believed that ‘To construct is to build in space.’ (Exhibition website)

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Studio Drift – Coded Nature at the Stedelijk

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One of the temporary exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum was dedicated to the work of Studio Drift, Netherlands-born artist Lonneke Gordijn and her British/Dutch partner Ralph Nauta, who use modern technology to produce some imaginative installations and videos.

The first work we saw was Drifter, a massive ‘concrete’ block that  floated mid-air, tilting and moving around the room as if of its own accord.

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In the next room, Ghost Collection consisted of a number of transparent plastic chairs with ghostly forms created by air bubbles trapped inside the Perspex and illuminated by light.

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This sculpture, Fragile Drift, was created by three-dimensional bronze electrical circuits connected to light emitting dandelions. It contains real dandelion seeds, that were picked by hand, and glued seed by seed to LED lights.

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In Flylight , lights suspended from the ceiling responded to the movement of visitors to the gallery creating changing patterns of light, inspired by the movement of flocks of birds.

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Other works on display included an interactive 3D installation, video works and videos of installations they’d created.

The final work, Tree of Ténéré was a large-scale LED artwork in the shape of a tree that was originally installed at the  Burning Man festival in Nevada in 2017. It was created in conjunction with American artist artist Zachary Smith.

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The project is named after an acacia tree that once grew 400 kilometres from any other tree in the Sahara Desert, which was used as a marker on caravan routes but allegedly mowed down by a drunk driver in 1973.

It was an excellent exhibition and worth the the entrance fee to the Museum on it’s own.

A visit to the Stedelijk

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The final day of our short break in Amsterdam and our flight didn’t leave until just before 10 p.m. Son and daughter wanted to visit the Van Gogh Museum and had bought tickets online. We’d been before and decided to let them explore without us and, instead, we went to have a look around the Stedelijk Modern Art Museum, next door. We’d been before, in February, but they were between exhibitions, so thought it was worth another look round. They’d also redesigned the exhibition space for the permanent collection since our previous visit.

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There was a lot to see and in this post I’ll concentrate on some of the works from the permanent collection that caught my eye (excluding those from my post from the February visit).

Kitchen Gardens on Montmartre by Van Gogh

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Double Portrait of the Artist and his Wife by Max Becker

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La Montserrat by Julio Gonzalez, a sculpture that represents the fighting spirit of the Catalan people during the Spanish Civil War

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Apartheid by Keith Haring

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Radioactive Waste by Sigmar Polke

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Some posters from the Museum’s collection of Soviet art works

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There were also quite a number of Modernist photographs, many taken by photographers I hadn’t come across before, so I’ll have to follow up with some research when I have the time (so much to see, find out and do – so little time!!!). The photos don’t come out too well in my snapshots due to reflective glass, unfortunately.

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A picinic in the Amstelpark

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After our visit to NDSM we caught the tram back to base to freshen up then picked up some supplies. On a hot sunny summer evening when it would be light until late, what would be better than a picnic in the park?

The Vondel Park in the centre of Amsterdam is well known and frequented by tourists. However, we hopped on a tram headed for the Amstelpark in the south of the city. As the name implies, it’s located by the Amstel river and was originally created for the 1972 Floriade gardening exhibition.

After enjoying our meal, we went for a wander around the park in the evening sunshine.

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This is a rather moving Monument Rozenoord, commemorating an atrocity committed towards the end of WW2 when one hundred and forty men were executed by the German occupying forces at Rozenoord on the Amsteldijk in Amsterdam. Many of the victims were involved in the resistance .

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a large installation consisting of a hundred chairs. The chairs seem to have spread randomly across the field, as if they were still in use a few minutes ago. The chairs are arranged according to the eight dates on which the victims were executed. There is a plaque for the unknown suspects.

Each chair is mounted on an elegant concrete base in which the name and date of birth and death date of each victim is recorded. The Rozenoord monument aims to bring us back to a one-to-one relationship. Each of the hundred chairs represents an individual with their own personality and their own story.

Walking through the park on a warm, sunny evening reminded me of our evening walks through the park in Melbourne last December. The nature of the two parks was very similar as was the weather. But I didn’t expect to see this!

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(There’s a small petting zoo in the park).

We left the park for a short while to walk along the banks of the Amstel

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Rembrandt used to walk along here out of Amsterdam and used to sketch the landscape. Some of his prints included views of Amstel river he based on these drawings.

Just by the south entrance to the park, there’s the Riekermolen windmill. It’s a 1961 reconstruction of an older windmill that stood here from 1636 to 1956 and was active until 1932.

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We went back into the park and almost got locked in when we popped back to have a look at this reconstruction of a DeStil type house

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NDSM

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The second day of our recent trip to Amsterdam we decided to do something different and cross the Ij to the north side of the city. We took of the free ferries from Centraal Station across the water over to NDSM ( Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij – the Dutch Shipbuilding and Dry dock Company), a former ship yard that is now being redeveloped as a “cultural area”. I’d seen a post by Anabel, the Glasgow Gallivanter who’d visited it with her husband earlier this year, so we thought we’d follow their example. We were lucky and despite a cloudy morning during our visit after midday we were blessed with a hot, sunny day with bright blue skies.

In 1937, the NDSM was the largest ship-building company in the world, but like many European shipyards facing competition from the Far East it declined after the Second World War and went bankrupt and closed in 1984.  Initially it lay derelict but in the 90’s artistic and creative types moved in, squatting and taking advantage of the space offered by the massive buildings.  As is often the case, developers have now started to move in and we’ve seen the construction of hotels, restaurants, offices and housing. One of the cranes has even been converted into an expensive hotel.

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Arriving at the ferry terminal we passed an old submarine moored in the Ij

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and a ship hotel

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Despite this, there’s still a large creative community occupying the old shipbuilding facilities. And like in many such places, the buildings and anything else that isn’t moving is covered with street art.

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We even saw some of the artists at work.

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The main former shipyard building is still used by creatives who’ve built themselves a complex of workshops and studios in part of the massive space. We had a mooch around inside.

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Afterwards feeling hot and thirsty, we wandered over to the “funky” Nooderlicht cafe built to serve the artistic community

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Refreshed, we made our way back to the ferry terminal to take the boat back to Centraal Station. We had plans for the evening.

Back in Amsterdam

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We hadn’t been home long after our stay in Cheshire with Anne and Steve before we were off again. An early start on Tuesday morning setting off at 5 a.m to catch the plane from Manchester to Amsterdam for a short break to see our daughter who is living over there. (Is there a more unpleasant airport than Manchester? If there is I haven’t found it yet!!). We stopped for two night but as we took an early flight out and late flight home, we had more or less four full days to look around. Like Britain, the Netherlands have been having a prolonged period of good weather and we were blessed with long hot days and blue skies which meant that Amsterdam looked particularly pretty.

At the moment my daughter is living on a houseboat on the Prisengracht canal, just by the junction with the Amstel. It’s not a boat as such but what’s known as an “Ark” and it’s effectively a floating caravan!

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There’s loads of them in the canals and river in Amsterdam. Some of them really large and luxurious (particularly those on the larger Amstel waterway).

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As usual we kept ourselves busy, making the most of our time in the city – and unlike our last trip in February when it was freezing cold, like back home in the UK, Amsterdam was experiencing something of a heatwave.

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Het Olympisch Stadion

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We were staying directly across from the Olympisch Stadion, built as the main stadium for the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. It’s a brick built Amsterdam School style structure, designed by the Dutch architect Jan Wils.

Due to renovation works taking place on a couple of Art Deco style buildings at the front of the stadium and an entrance that had been built to the stadium which was being used as a skating rink (the Dutch love skating), we couldn’t see much of the building, but I popped over for half an hour one afternoon to take a closer look.

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Built of brick, in keeping with the Amsterdam School style the walls have decorative features including flower boxes and projections.

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The Marathontoren (Marathon Tower) is positioned asymmetrically in front of the Marathonpoort (Marathon Gateway) – it’s here where the Olympic flame burned for the duration of the Games

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The tower is lit up at night and we could see it from the street outside the hotel and our bedroom window.

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Round the back of the stadium there was a sculpture of Johan Cruyff and Berti Vogts who played on opposite sides during the 1974 World Cup Final between the Netherlands and West Germany.

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