In the garden

Working in the garden is a welcome addition to my life. I started working there April last year and met many new people there. Most, if not all, with the same attitude towards living in this world as me. Not buying too much. Eating as good as possible. Not too much meat. Reading the news with a critical eye. Enjoying life as much as possible!

I want to thank everyone working in or visiting the garden. The people i wave to when they walk by and i catch their eyes. I have no idea for how much longer i will work there, but this past year was a good learning experience for me and an excellent time with the garden itself and the other people working there.

Salute!

Some more photos i made over the last weeks. I did publish a few on facebook. I also want to show them here.

Published on January 23, 2017 at 6:00 by

Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti – 10 October 1901 – 11 January 1966 – is one of the artists i knew before i went to art school. I went to La Grande Parade, the goodbye exhibition of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam director Edy de Wilde. Giacometti’s work was part of this collection. I’m not sure i saw it clearly at the time. But it did stay with me.

A year later there was an exhibition in the Haags Gemeentemuseum in The Hague from 1 March till 12 May 1986. I still see images in my head of walking through these exhibition. Drawings, paintings and sculpture were shown here. I bought the catalogue and read it thoroughly back home.

Over the years my admiration for Giacometti has faded. I still love his work, yes, but it doesn’t play a big part in my life. Still, a few thoughts have stayed with me.

My first year in art school was fantastic. I loved working for all the different subjects taught. I initially went there with the thought i would go into graphic design, but i switched. Painting! So that was my second year. I failed horribly. I got a big zero, a big null from my painting teacher. So the next year i had to switch. Monumental and photography. Better choices. I was getting more into political oriented art, current affairs art. I liked Gilbert & George, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol. Not that i completely understood why they made their work, but still.

When i had finished art school, with a proper diploma, i had a couple of years of care of the government. Those were the easy times. One or two assignments. The organization of Sexposition with a friend from art school. But i didn’t feel comfortable in the art world. So i jumped out, in 1994, when i got the opportunity to get a proper job and earn my own living.

Giacometti by that time was far back over the horizon. My time was spend with computers. I started working on my own website in 1997. And that was it. I found my way.

So i’m not sure why i picked Giacometti as a post last week. I have the one for Andy Warhol still standing as a draft. But that one requires more work. This one is a bit easier. I think. Not sure.

I always enjoyed his paintings more than his sculpture. Even though he is more well known for his sculpture. Maybe because it seems more finished? The sculptures are rough. You can see the manual labour in them, but they still appear before your eyes as a piece complete in itself. The drawings and paintings are sketchy. Lines are not used to depict all the textures and shapes of the visible world, but to almost write a person. The drawing or painting is not a world on its own, with its two dimensional depiction. It is an active looking into this world, into the objects and subjects of it.

A few thoughts have stayed with me. One is that when i am old with my life mostly finished, i will return to drawing and painting. Right now, i am not sure about this. I don’t know if this is still a true thought. I don’t know what i’ll be doing once i’m old. Still have a lot of life to live. I’m not planning my life all beforehand. I like some surprises!

I also see in Giacometti’s work someone struggling. To make an honest portrayal of what he understand this world to be. I hope he has felt he has succeeded several times. Not that success is the one and only measure of a life and a work. The work itself, the effort put into it counts too. I should know.

In 1945, while watching a film, Giacometti reports an equally important influence that prompted not only a change in his perception, but also made him “want to try to represent what [he] saw.”34 As he watched a film in a Parisian movie theatre, instead of recognizing the forms and shapes on the screen, he saw “only black and white specks shifting on a flat surface.35 The film, he realized, was only an imitation of three-dimensionality.36 When he turned to other members of the audience, he saw the same two-dimensionality, realizing that his “vision of the world had been photographic, as it had been for almost everybody, and that a photograph. . .cannot truly convey reality. His perception was totally altered, punctuated by the knowledge that until then, he had not experienced this reality. Having experienced both the photographic perception that most people possess, as well as a perceptual revelation that awakened a “truer” reality, Giacometti sought thereafter to convey his new way of viewing the world. His aesthetic was to represent his own reality.

Giacometti recognized the need to base his work in physicality, but also to convey what he came to understand as a unique visual method. His overarching goal was to find the most essential truth in the human, and to make use of outer appearances to convey that special truth. His search for truth, which he defined as the primary project of his life, was pursued through the lens of his personal vision. Except for his Surrealist period, Giacometti worked from a model, struggling to bring to the surface the inner force he felt in the human figure. He spent extended time studying his model before he attempted to paint or sculpt him or her, and was infamous for forcing even young children to remain perfectly still in order for him to feel, through his sight, their interiors. His gaze was so scrutinizing that one sitter described it as veritably tangible force, as if “Giacometti’s hands were actually touching his face.”

Source: The Personal Vision of Alberto Giacometti

I picked only a few photos i found while searching the internet. Larger ones. And mostly paintings and drawings. One sculpture: a woman, standing. I like that one.

A sculpture

Paintings

Drawings

The books i have

Published on January 20, 2017 at 6:00 by

A walk in the cold

Another cold day. I went out for a walk through the Kralingse Bos. This week i had looked up gardens on the other side of it. I planned to visit them.

The view on Rotterdam, with the partly frozen Kralingse Plas, the birds all huddled up in the few bits of clear water, the whiteness of the trees and the sky, the low hanging sun shining was magnificent.

I visited the Venhoeve. This is a collection of separate allotments, mostly grass and flower gardens. Since it was freezing cold, there was nobody around to talk to. I went on.

Further along are the Educational Municipal Gardens Prins Alexander. Mainly school gardens. Quite a large area really. I was lucky, since there was somebody there. We talked a bit. The man, maintainer of the gardens used to work in the Kralingse Bos. Cutting cost did come up in our conversation a couple of times. I will be sad if these school gardens will be let go. Not sure what i can do about this. If ever i got loads of money, setting up a foundation for these gardens will be high on my list of things i want to do.

A lovely great garden. Cold, yes. Nothing growing there, everything covered in frost, sure. But still, everything seems to be waiting for the first spring days in a couple of months, and everything is preparing itself almost unseen to burst into leaves and flowers and fruits and vegetables.

Published on January 19, 2017 at 6:00 by

A walk through the center

Today i went to the market. It was cold! I had my thermo T-shirt and socks on. That helped. My intention was to photograph as many people as i could. Some worked good. But still, others simply walked on minding their own business. I couldn’t help but photograph buildings and other things around too.

Enjoy!

Published on January 18, 2017 at 6:00 by

Live boldly

I was sitting in front of the television this Sunday morning. I thought about this post. On Saturday I came across a link on facebook and was enchanted by the quote on the linked page on Brainpickings. I copied it to a new post. I first gave it another title, but changed it to Live boldly. I don’t even remember the first title. Something with silent.

My thoughts wandered away.

The dream and photo i wrote about in an earlier post, Memories.

My earliest memory came back to me in a dream. Around my twenties i dreamed i was crawling on a short stairs with maybe two steps. It was warm. I felt the warmth in my hands which were resting on the steps. I felt the warm stones beneath my fingers. My mother was sitting in front of me. She pointed to somebody behind me. My father. He was standing there with a camera in front of his face. He clicked. I had the photo. Somehow i lost it. I searched for it quite a few times. I still hope it’s somewhere in a book or a notebook. Somewhere hidden. I do love this memory. I can still feel the warm stones. I was like a year, a year and half old.

This photo was taken in 1965. It is something that really happened. And the dream i had, when i was around twenty years old, happened too. The dream, even with this distance of around thirty years, this dream i can still remember clearly. Pointing to myself, feeling the warm stones beneath my hands and looking behind me. The memory of the event itself, when i was only one year old, has faded away for a long time.

This dream is the counter point of the photo. In this dream i look at my father, with a camera in front of his head. His finger on the button ready to make the photo. I had only turned around a second before that. My mother was pointing at something behind me. My mother with her dark hair in a high knot up above her head, smiling. The sun shining. Warm stones beneath me. I turn around and look at my father. I do not see my father’s face. A mechanical object is in front of it, a camera.

Click

My father is the one not in the photo. He took it. What i see in the photo is me and my mother, still pointing. Me, the one person i do not see in the dream. Me, the one person who is experiencing this event. I feel her, i feel what she feels, but i don’t see her. What i see is my dad.

My dad who has been absent from my life for the past twenty-eight years. My dad who is still alive. Who lives in a older people’s home somewhere in the west, between Rotterdam and the beaches. My dad who is slightly demented. Not sure about the slightly. My dad whose voice i last heard on the phone. You are not my daughter.

As you live your life, you are the only person you can not see entirely. You see your hands. You see your hair, when it is longer. You see your legs, your tummy. You do not see your back. You do not see your eyes. You see your nose only from the side, a bit blurry. You see your mouth only when you make a kissing face and put your mouth way out in front. Still blurry.

You do see other people completely. You see their face. You see their eyes. Their nose, their cheeks, their mouth. Their hands, their feet, their legs, their tummy. You see their backs. The top of their head.

But you can not see what is in their head. You can not see their thoughts. You can not feel what they feel.

They are a mystery.

I made many self portraits. When i was at art school, i started out with drawings. Then photography. My final project was with self portraits.

Making these self portraits was not extremely difficult. I only needed myself, a tripod, a camera and film. I started out with black and white film and ended up with colour. I used 25 ASA film most of the time. Very fine grain. Great colour. I still have all the negatives.

I used a whole film for each set. Looking into the camera with different facial expressions. A smile. A serious look. A look away. Different angles. From above. From the front. From the side.

I postponed seeing the look on myself. I only got to see what i looked like when i developed the film and started printing. Contact sheets gave me an overview, a chance to pick the best photo. The ones i believed to be the best anyway. Very difficult to get to that one.

This situation was very different from my initial photo opportunity, when i was one and a half years old. I was grown up. I was making these photos myself. Picking the right time myself.

For years i didn’t make photos of myself. Or they were hopeless failures. Not good. Not a good look. Not a pretty girl. Not a good photo.

I did make a few in 2010 i liked. And last year i made two great ones. In the sunshine. With the sun shining on the white cd cupboard. With my iPhone camera. I did need to make a cutout. The photo was ok with the entire shot. But a square cutout worked like magic.

I confess, i do like it when i look pretty in a photo. Of course i have so much more ugly photos of myself. But i get to pick the ones i show you. So yes, i show you the pretty ones. Even though i don’t feel i’m that vain, a bit of vanity i don’t mind.

So most of my work has a relationship with my dream of me and my mum and dad when i was around one and a half years old. I didn’t realize this at the time. This dream i still remember. I don’t know why i had this memory dream. I don’t know why exactly i made the work i made. But it did call to me. And yes, it is becoming clearer. I can put it into the story of my life. The story i’m telling you here. Which i forged out of my memories of the fifty two years of my life so far.

The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.

Source: Ted Hughes on the Universal Inner Child, in a Moving Letter to His Son

We all make stories. We grow up, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. All different things happen to us. Happy things. Sad things. Painful things. We meet other people. And things happen. We fall in love. And out of love.

We try to make this story matter. We have so much inspiration. We have all the old stories. Fairy tales. Movies. Television. Books. Myths. Religion. But all the stories in our lives are only pieces of these old stories. Our own lives are a multitude mass of little pieces, each told with a slightly different voice.

But each one of us is also a physical person. A whole being.

Born. Growing up. Walking. Working. Loving. Dead.

There is mystery in each of us. Fractured existence. Different voices. Each telling another side.

Me, here, on ellenpronk.com, i’m talking about my own existence. Fifty two years now. Halfway. Or slightly over.

I’m trying to make my stories work. For me. To understand my life, so far. To see threads. To make new threads. To tell new stories. To notice new things. Sometimes i fail. Many times i fail. But everything i tell here is true. In a way.

From me to you, i do hope you enjoy it here.

You are welcome.

Published on January 16, 2017 at 6:00 by

The weather

Yesterday’s weather was changing from hour to hour. When i walked to the garden to empty my compost bucket, it was windy, blue sky with clouds racing through it. When i walked to the dietician shortly after that, it was still windy, but a blue clear sky.

After the appointment with the dietician i walked back another way, it was a grey cloudy sky and a bit of rain. And still windy.

Inconstant Dutch winter weather.

It’ll be colder the next week. No snow i hope, but the cold i’m looking forward too!


2017-01-11 13.36.25.mov – created in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 51°55’35.04″N 4°29’29.04″E

Published on January 12, 2017 at 6:00 by

On the other hand

Rereading yesterday’s post. Hmmm.

It is straight from my heart, of course. Yet, on the other hand, i’m still happy right now being alone. My mind is racing. Each day is different.

The day i wrote the post True Love, i woke up in the morning with this thought in my mind. True love. So i did spend the day writing this. Finishing it in the evening. Rereading it in the morning and put a quick edit over it. Mainly style issues.

Then a brief moment of panic, a couple of hours later. That is where the thought for this post came up.

Yes, i do feel happy. Right now. Alone.

True love, yes, i do dream of it. And i do hope i come across someone who can appreciate my work, leave me be for when i want to. Someone to talk with, play chess with. Someone who can surprise me, and who i can surprise in the same way. And sex, not unimportantly. And tenderness, most importantly.

But for now, i am alone. Still happy.

Also, an answer to the questions i asked yesterday.

Why am i working so hard on this website?

I could easily make less posts. Once a week? Work besides it. What i have done for years. What makes this time so different? Why do i make myself crazy? Why do i go for the being penniless?

Timing.

I do mention the sledgehammer moment i had more than two years ago. This feeling of urgency i got. I have to work. Work work work! Make things. Write. Think. Express. Be there.

This feeling is getting worse and worse. I simply need to listen to it.

Now, of course, i can be wrong. I could have a fail safe. It is just, i do not have the time. I need to be ready at a certain point.

This feeling is a very personal feeling. I could let it go, but then i know i will regret that for the rest of my life. And that is something i don’t want to do to myself. I’d rather have a bit of trouble now, than that regret.

So yes, timing.

Salute, dear reader.

Published on January 11, 2017 at 6:00 by

True Love

Why am i working so hard on this website?

I could easily make less posts. Once a week? Work besides it. What i have done for years. What makes this time so different? Why do i make myself crazy? Why do i go for the being penniless?

So many questions. Which i not ask myself, because i simply want to go on, move on. Not care about anything else. Exactly what i do right now.

Why?

I have only had sex with one man. Proper sex, penetration and all. And i wasn’t in love with him! Still, ending that relationship, after only two months, was difficult. I had grown attached.

I fell in love a couple of years after that. He was a nice man, but not in love with me. He was in love with somebody else, who was not in love with him. We did sleep together two or three nights, but never had proper sex. A few years after that he fell in love with somebody else. They have two children now. I fell out of love with him.

Before that, i was like everybody else. I fell in love with a guy because he winked at me. Like, geez girl, get a grip. Only a wink. I walked up to his apartment with clean underwear and a toothbrush. Afterwards i was happy he wasn’t home.

The guy i met in a bar, to whom i said i am recalcitrant! We went to the McDonalds and sat there and ate a burger and talked for over an hour. I thought he must be it! When i went to his house and had dinner and went to bed with him afterwards i realized i didn’t feel love. And i said no. Please no. He listened. Not happy no. But still. Of course that evening was the last time we spend together.

At school, this cute guy wearing new wave clothes and listening to new wave music. He asked me to go to a gig in Vlaardingen. I was so excited. And i didn’t say a word to him the whole evening. So shy. Took me years to get over him.

I didn’t work on lfs.nl from 2006 til 2014. I tried. I didn’t let go, but i had no inspiration. At moments the thought came up that that was it. I was done. No more creative work. My life left empty, on my way to death and forgetfulness.

I felt hit with a sledgehammer, now more than two years ago. October 2014. There was this manager i kinda fancied, but who i didn’t know at all. Never got to talk to him. I left the job quite suddenly. I remember sitting in the train in the early morning with all the other people traveling towards Amsterdam. I remember talking to the guy who was playing with the Rubik’s cube. Such a nice guy.

And i started working again on lfs.nl. Writing about me. Writing about my future boyfriend. Making presents once again. So happy. So terribly happy.

So yes, i was surprised, only a few months afterwards, when i was making my final present. About. This was the end of my testing trip through internet land, Trying out different options, making flash presents, writing about all different things.

Ellenpronk.com, which i used for work, but never made a website for, was waiting for me. A proper blog, with a proper schedule. Five updates a week, posted at six in the morning. The possibility to give myself 5 weeks holiday a year. I only took one week in the first year. Three weeks all together in the second year.

Almost two years since i started on this website. It is filled with walks, with photos, with presents, with old works, with stories. The stories of my life.

Working in the garden only started less than a year ago. I love these two days a week.

But the garden cannot fill the emptiness in my life.

So what drives me towards this end? What drives me to this penniless state? What forces me to come clean? To make myself clear. To talk here. At the end of nowhere.

What do i really want?

The answer is simple.

True love.

True Love

Yesterday in the garden we briefly talked about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and their split up. I was a bit sad when they did. I am still wondering what happened between them. What made this lovely couple decide they didn’t like each other anymore. How did they come together anyway? Who had made the first move? I mean, Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston at the time. In my book that means the man is off the menu. But my book isn’t everybody’s book. And what with the children?

This whole case is a mystery to me. And yes, it does sadden me. They were the glory couple of Hollywood, with their six children.

The whole Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift three month romance over the summer of 2016 was baffling.

I don’t follow the news, but this dripped in. Most likely through facebook. These are two people i do not know, but the publicity around the whole circus was breathtaking. It seemed like the whole world was going crazy.

September 6, 2016: Us Weekly reports Hiddleston and Swift have broken up—right before the Emmys, where people thought they’d step out on the red carpet together. Swift ended it. “Tom wanted the relationship to be more public than she was comfortable with,” a source tells the outlet. “Taylor knew the backlash that comes with public displays of affection but Tom didn’t listen to her concerns when she brought them up.”

Hiddleston, meanwhile, is “embarrassed that the relationship fizzled out.” The two have not officially commented yet.

This was hot up until September 20, when the news of the breakup between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie became mega world news.

This all is very different from the world close to me. Most of my friends do have a relation, for around twenty years or more. Not everybody, no. A few did separate. Went further with somebody else. Some ended up single, with children.

And than there is me. Someone who didn’t have a long term relationship. Rare. Yes.

So yes. True love.

I am at that age where waiting for something to happen is less of an option. The true love bit, the hard part. The chance encounter. Where something completely unexpected happens. Where you heart starts racing, your mind is thinking like mad. Ding dong.

So here i am. After two years of working again on my websites. After talking about so many things, some deeply personal. After showing you my old work, the old self portraits i used to make, the old drawings. The walks i love to make. The garden i love to work in.

This is it. This is what i want.

And i can not claim it. I can not demand it. It is forever out of my reach, it seems.

It seems.

I have not given up hope. No.

The only thing i can see for myself now, is to simply talk about this. To let it out of my system. To look at it, look at the desire, feel the desire burn inside me, and talk about it.

So yes, if there is any reason i should become more well known, should be out there, talking about these things, as myself, completely serious, this is it.

True love

Published on January 10, 2017 at 6:00 by