On Friday the 7th April I finally visited the newly opened Museum Voorlinden, since finding out about this museum and its collection I wanted to visit it so badly but being in the middle of nowhere (between Den Haag and Leiden) it’s not the easiest place to get to but when ex-intern Sean Valies invited me to go with him and his school friends I jumped at the chance to go there.
The day started with a quick train ride to Den Haag where I had a few hours by myself to explore this new city before meeting up with Sean. The city has a strange dynamic with old buildings and canals like a lot of other Dutch cities but juxtaposed with a modern financial district which reminded me of a New York skyline with tall skyscrapers and office blocks; also similar to Rotterdam.
I made a short trip to the Mauritshuis museum to kill time and see some classic paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters such as Vermeer and Rembrandt; the museum itself is a piece of art — an impressive 17th century building in the heart of the city with lavish decoration and furniture.
The recent rebrand by Studio Dumbar was apparent and clear to see, it reflects the space well and looks very contemporary with its overlapping letters/ligature to reflect artist’s monograms.
I do intend on returning to Den Haag during my time here to visit the other cities museums and galleries.
I met up with Sean and after he giving a quick tour around his school (KABK) and its facilities we got the bus to Wassenaar and walked over to Museum Voorlinden. An interesting walk which resulted in us taking the wrong turn and crossing highway bridges, hockey pitches, a golf course and eventually climbing hills and sand-dunes as we almost walked to the coast before finally realising maybe we went the wrong way. A great start, although it was a bright and sunny day so we didn’t mind getting too lost; our own restraint was time.
Eventually we found our way and made it to the museum which was hard to miss, this huge modern structure in the middle of an open field. The design of the building exterior perfectly matched the interior: clean and minimal throughout. Beautiful white walls and tall ceilings — the perfect environment for contemporary art.
The stand-out pieces of work were in the museum’s permanent collection and an exhibition on the work of Martin Creed — SAY CHEESE! First off the permanent stuff, although I don’t want to give too much away as the work here is definitely best experienced in person. Something which I had seen multiple times on various social media platforms is Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich, a piece designed and built especially for the museum where as you walk towards it you can see and hear a seemingly normal swimming pool as water ripples and laps across the surface with a ladder leading to the bottom, until you walk around the corner and down a set of stairs and realise the illusion.
Another piece designed and built especially for the museum is Skyspace by James Turrell. A tranquil and serene environment where seats line the four walls of a room with a huge open ceiling where nothing but sky and clouds are visible, the weather was perfect for this. What was most soothing was the clarity of nature you could hear; birds whistling and trees swaying, as if the room had the best acoustics ever — we could’ve spent ages in here.
The Martin Creed exhibition was put simply: madness. The 54 pieces selected for this exhibition reflected the artist’s humor and character and also his unique and weird style with each individual room having a real ‘what on earth is going on here’ feeling. Again these pieces really have to be witnessed first hand to get the full impact and maybe it is best to describe some of them in the simplest way by describing what they are literally, room by room.
The first room you enter the exhibition by is a square room, half-filled with huge ballons which you have to fight through to find the exit where you walk into a room with 39 metronomes — each one ticking at a different tempo resulting in a cacophony of ticks. This room also has a box full of Martin Creed’s own cut hair.
The next room has 29 cacti placed in size order and opposite this is a perfectly formed pyramid of 1275 toilet rolls as well as sheets of paper completely coloured in with marker pens.
The third room has a square filled with 64 different light bulbs each at different brightness, combined to create one incredible source of light as well as a wall covered in 104 strips of 2 inch thick coloured tape of which he could find in shops and online with self-playing piano in front of it where each note is played for an equal length of time with an equal measure of silence in between.
Next a wall with 1000 individually framed broccoli prints, all in different colours and in front of this stands four perfectly balanced chairs one on top of another and also a sporadic pile of sports balls.
The last room, the biggest was filled with 3 cars and an assortment of other random objects. These artworks were incredibly humorous and inventive and reflect the artist perfectly. A band wandered around the museum playing one of his albums, to add to the chaos and randomness.
Martin Creed himself describes his practice and world as “a soup of thoughts and feelings and all things mixed up together. Working is a way of trying to cope, to separate the soup and escape; to get from the inside out”.
This perfectly sums up what is going on at the SAY CHEESE! exhibition here.
SAY CHEESE! is on display at Museum Voorlinden until 11th June 2017 and definitely worth the trip if you can make it, so you can experience this weird and wonderful work yourself.