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Talk FEminine Identity 2.0

My great-grandmother Ada Beets painted by Bart Peizel, 1941.

This time my presentation Feminine Identity focussed on the history of civilization and it was the right opportunity to rehabilitate my great-grandmother Ada Beets. As the youngest daughter of the famous Victorian pastor, writer, poet, professor Nicolaas Beets she was not allowed to leave the house alone because of her love for a boy who had not been approved by her father. Her father was a celebrated Dutchman, he was a respected preacher and teacher and close with the royal family. He was knows as charming and liberal but was not able to let his daughter make her own decisions. Her upbringing influenced subsequently that of her children, grandchildren and even her great-grandchildren. It became not easier for me, I was brought up by a mother who was overprotected, prude and dogmatic. And I am sure she suffered a lot under frustrations, not been able to develop and use her talents. had to figure it all out by myself, there was no one who stimulated and supported me to develop my talents. Like so many other women during history I would have to struggle all my life to be free…

This talk took place at Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede, The Netherlands on the 28th of November 2021.

Working With Willow

Natural geometry | Hedy Hempe

Since 2003 I am working with willow. In my presentation for Qua Art Qua Science at De Museumfabriek in Enschede on 7th of September I will share my experiences and development in the making of willow objects. As my shapes become more geometric I need to expand my technical skills. It also requires more knowledge of the material itself, how does it react in different circumstances. Developing knowledge and improving skills takes time and effort. I learned a lot by just doing but as you get further in the process you need to get into details. That is inspiring and exciting!

Feminine Identity

Art gifts for Qua Art Qua Science, at De Museumfabriek, Enschede, NL.

Identity is a complicated concept, especially when it comes to living beings who shared the same common ancestors 3.7 billion years ago. By identity we mean the personality or character of an individual, but a group can also have an identity. The simplest division of the fauna based on distinction is gender. Because without women and men there is no reproduction. So, feminine and masculine identity is anchored in biological traits. But with the development of the brain, we have become aware of emotions. How do women feel, act and think and how do they react differently from men in certain situations?

Based on my life and professions as an artist and journalist, I give my vision on Feminine Identity in a one hour presentation. I was invited by Qua Art Qua Science to speak in De Museumfabriek in Enschede, The Netherlands on 29th of June. More presentations to come?! To be continued…

Presentation in the auditorium of De Museumfabriek, Enschede, NL.


Eggshell artwork H-spiral on the cover of this music study book by Christoph Enzel, 2021.

A breathtaking subject! My eggshell artwork is featured on the cover of this music study book, written by musician and composer Christoph Enzel (Berlin, Germany). This book is intended for saxophone players who want to learn circular breathing. In addition to practical instructions, the book also contains a number of compositions to practice with. I do not play the saxophone, but I do play piano, as an amateur. Music is an important part of expression for me. It is therefore a confirmation that my art proves to be a source of inspiration for musicians. I made the H-spiral out of 321 eggshell pieces devided over 6 spiral arms, starting from the center towards an imaginary infinity.

Reed pagoda

This object is made of reed bundles and is placed in the sculpture garden of Leefgoed de Olifant in Nieuwerkerk aan de IJssel. Since a few years I am fascinated by working with reed. It has a fragile look but in bundles it becomes quite strong. It appears as a pagoda in the early morning sun…

A WILLOW trefoil Knot

Every spring I make objects from fresh willow. Willow provides flexible twigs which can be used for braiding and knotting. Knots are useful and decorative elements in wickerwork, but what if the knot itself becomes the object?

Last winter I came across the image of Escher’s woodcut ‘Knots’ (1965) and I wondered if it would be possible to make this looped knot of willow. To be able to braid the knot, it must be translated into a smooth tubular shape. That would certainly be a challenge because normally the shapes of my objects are somewhat unpredictable. Wildly grown willow has its own will, and to make sure it looks like a tubed knot it is important to preserve the right shape.

One only knows the limitations of material when pushing the boundaries. I had to start again when the tube collapsed midway on a weak spot. For the next attempt I ensured that the diameter of the tube remained as constant as possible. And I had to make the bend from the first to the second loop more smooth. It is quite difficult not to lose orientation in space while braiding and controlling these aspects at the same time.

From another era…

This is a surrealistic design for an artwork at art event Hummelo (The Netherlands). A walking route takes the visitor around a beautiful, authentic and historical dutch landscape, maintained by one of the oldest aristocrate family of The Netherlands. A remarkable place to dwell and to show art…

Due to an historical event this has become an interesting location: in 1849 Julia, the baron’s daughter, died here when she was twenty, after a fall from her horse. Her father had built her a castle at Enghuizen and she was about to get married. A terrible accident for parents who already lost two sons. The youngest son inherited the castle instead, but it was bommed by allied airplanes during WOII and a few years later the remains where destroyed by a fire. An empty pedestal reminds of a dramatic story from another era…

Intuitively this location has a strong association with a no mans land, a neutral vaccuum, a grey zone, a portal to a next dimension. I tried to unite these associations in a infinite, 3-dimensional knot, floating in space, inserted by surrealistic tubes, each representing a dimension. But I also feel a connection with the era of the Renaissance. The lordship of Enghuizen has its origin already in the Middle Ages. The aristocratic family of Van Heeckeren manage to keep it through all times, including the Renaissance and the Napoleontic period. The Renaissance was an important transition to a more scientific, modern way of thinking and living. Time and space were given a new meaning. Religion and filosofie came together in science.

En faisant et en pensant, je découvre la vie…

Squircle & 9-Spiral

During the spring of this year my new eggshell artworks Squircle and 9-Spiral will be exposed by Gallery40nl at the art fairs of Brussels and Lausanne. This time I had to deal with some changes and I challenged myself to make two difficult and totally different designs.

Squircle I, eggshells on wooden panel, 90 x90 cm, Hedy Hempe 2019/20.

The first idea for a design was a squircle, an intriging combination of a square and circle. I thought it would be interesting to visualize this shape with eggshells. But how could I increase an optical 3-dimensionality at the same time? By using infinity at the edge. For the second design I used infinity towards the center. Nine spiral arms of eggshells are rushing to an imaginary vanishing point.

There are two changes which have effect on the approach of eggshell designs. First I used a wooden panels of smaller dimension. The gallery owner asked me to change the size from 100 to 90 cm square. As shells of goose eggs have a certain diameter the available surface influences the design. It took some time until this size became part of my system. The second change has to do with the display case of acrylic glass. For carrying and exposing these kind of artworks a protection is indispensible. The eggshells are indeed fixated with very strong glue, so they will not ever fall off, but if somebody hit a shell with his hand it will break. Although the transparent shield gives the artworks a sophisticated museum look, the images which are shown here are photographed without the display case.

The Brussels Art Fair runs from 20 – 22 March and the Art Fair Lausanne 30 April – 4 May. Look for Gallery40nl!

9-Spiral, eggshells on wooden panel, 90 x 90 cm, Hedy Hempe 2019/20.

Women take up space

This exhibition is an indoor follow-up of Playground, with sculpture in the park. My sculpture of A1 is at the back of the park, inside you will find a bronze version of A1 as a serie of three Amazones and a self-portrait. Both the exhibitions can be visited until 15th of November.

During this group exhibition Indoor Playground my three Amazones in bronze are exposed, as well as the photo of the Woman and her Eternal Veil. The little Amazones are the beginning of awareness of the meaning of my presence as a woman. This process started after my mother died in 2016. Intuitively I clayed this figurines in 2017 and shortly after I invented the reed fan dance and I started my self-portrait project. At the same time my personal quest has become a universal issue: the position of women. It is interesting to notice globally that women should get stronger and that women translate that feeling in different ways. That is why I had to create the Amazones, the Woman and her Eternal Veil, the reed fan dance and A1. I am happy to make a contribution. For more information about the meaning of A1, read my article, go to menu > Sculptures > A1 at Bergarde.

Woman and her Eternal Veil| Hedy Hempe | 2017
Reed fan dance | Zomertuin Enschede | 2018.