Open Studio Impression by Sithabile Mlotshwa

I’ve chosen the theme: “In Search of Ubuntu – A Collective History – Dutch Golden Age,” as a reflection of this period, the impact it had if any in shaping the world,

socially and economically. By using this as my take off point, in response to; Iepen Mienskip – Open Community, I propose to critically reflect on and

begin the dialogue on what it means to be an Open Community in the current state of our world. This project is a great opportunity to take a closer and critical look at what has brought about the controversial issues facing the Western world—from refugees to climate change, racism to inequality and what it is to be human, in relation to each other, to our world and most importantly to the protection and preservation of our natural environment.

By beginning in the past, I question if there are similarities between the Dutch Golden age and Global Capitalism and whether there are lessons to be learned

in our attempt to fix all that men has broken. Through this project, I also question the role of women as they are at the core of the formation and re-shaping of the community.

It is with this reason that my take off point is from our past, in relation to our present and the impact this has on how we shape our future.

My hope is that the body of work that I produce, will not only spark a critical but fruitful dialogue but that it moves us from “Iepen Mienskip or Open Community” towards “Ubuntu, a Zulu filosophy meaning – I am because you are, also meaning my existence is only possible through the recognition others and everything, man, nature and beast alike.”

Sithabile Mlotshwa | http://www.thamgidifoundation.org|

Open Studio Impression by Edwin Smet


With his project Wâlden, Edwin Smet wishes to reflect on the book Walden by Thoreau – in which the writer, by himself, retreats from society into the woods for two years – as well as on his current three-week retreat in the environment of Fryslân, and its community. He is fascinated by the fact that although we have a relatively short span of life, particularly compared to nature, what can nevertheless be realized is enormous, also in the ever so short time of twenty-one days.
The paintings, drawings and texts he produces will be compiled in a multilingual booklet after the residency – consisting of three divisions: Wâld, Wei and Wetter. The residency turns out to be a perfect time of reflection on his own artistry, which has been stuffed with images and meaning of trees, woods, lakes, the landscape and human involvement, for over ten years. A single human, let alone society –mienskip–, can perform so much good in its time, albeit with care and engagement.

Open Studio Impression by Vince Briffa

The artist in residency programme has given me the chance to travel to and observe the rural landscape of Friesland, particularly the open spaces of the countryside. Coming from a small rocky and hilly island, this drastic change in scenery, together with its different set of colour palettes have had a great impact on the way that I have previously considered landscape and itrs objects.

The original concept of looking at landscape through a cow’s eyes has been extended to focus on the great expanse in front of the animal’s eyes. During this residency, I have also become very interested in the outbuildings and other rural architecture that are so common to the farming community, and also to the grazing cows. What I have been fascinated with is largely their minimal aesthetic, during different times of the day and night and under different weather conditions. When seen at night or particularly in a foggy day, these structures take on an almost ghostlike appearance.

The serenity of these forms, combined with the muted tones of the overall scenery give the works produced in the residency a timeless sense of beauty. The series leaves out any unneccessary detail taken from the landscape to give importance to the monumental minimalism of form, where detailed realism also gives way to quiet abstraction.

I do not use any form of photography, or indeed do not sketch on site. I prefer to deeply observe the landscape during my visit and rely on the images that my memory produces of the objects when I am back in the studio. In this way, I am unshackled of any unnecessary visual reference during the painting process and can afford to reduce the work to its bare essentials, without becoming illustrative.

Open Studio Impression by Friederike Willich

I am one of these eleven lucky international artists, who have been invited to come to Leeuwarden for three weeks and do their own project on “Iepen Mienskip“.

“Iepen Mienskip“ is a topic, a challenge, a goal for the future and certainly something that can’t be explored and totally transformed into a piece of art within such a short period of time.
But it is a path for each of us to follow. This is what I have been doing for the last couple of months in preparation to get ready to come here.

With my project here in Leeuwarden I want to invite everyone to follow me on my search for „iepen Mienskip“, exploring the city with its beautiful buildings, trying to take in the atmosphere, meeting people from all over the world, and then riding my bike home through green meadows and charming villages, accompanied by all kinds of birds to be welcomed by my unique host family on the sheep farm.

My exploring tour started in Leeuwarden at the library, a former prison that was remodeled and transformed into a public space, open to people of all ages, nations and diverse religious backgrounds. Isn’t that a good example for „Iepen Mienskip“ in itself?

My journey also takes you to the Oranjewoud Festival, where I met lots of Frisians among other visitors and many other places you might know or might experience differently now that you can see them with my eyes and through my soul.

As an artist I don’t sketch, draw or paint only what I see, but also what I am feeling.

My journey has not ended yet and my work is far from being completed. But doesn’t that match with „Iepen Mienskip“, a call for something that needs to be worked on permanently?

So come and visit my „Work in Progress“  presentation and discover what “Iepen Mienskip“ means to me …

Friederike Willich


Open Studio Impression by Nika Zupančič

My life in Leeuwarden moves very fast. There are too many impressions to absorb and not enough time to put them onto the canvas. I will definitely re-visit Fryslan one day. I would need few months to immerse into this landscape which perfectly resonates with my painting.
It’s flat but full of subtle relief and nuances, it’s silent but full of music of winds and birds, it’s so dynamic within its seeming tranquility.
I will continue with my square paintings (2 x 2 metres), paysages attached to the wall. The motifs are different landscapes, real as well as imaginary.
One painting is inspired by Slovenian genius loci.
The newest one is a representation of my immersion in this countryside, an imprint of images of Fryslan genius loci.
The third one is imaginary landscape.
So, all these paintings are characteristic of me, a painter of multiple horizons, as Slovenian critic Andrej Medved labelled me.
I feel an atmosphere here like I would step into my imaginary painting. An absolute painting.
To summarize, three poetic categories which define, according to my vision, this landscape are following one’s :

  • bucolique / pastorales ;
  • horizons – as a place for endless reflection – « oublie de soi » ;
  • the sound of silence – tranquility.

This is also what defines my painting.
I am certain that Fryslan genius loci will be reflected in my further work.

Further info regarding my biography and work you may find through my two websites : – work from 2002 till 2017 – new site with latest work

Open Studio Impression by Martina van de Gey

Iepen mienskip-

In hetzelfde schuitje / In the same boat

During a boat trip on the canals through Leeuwarden with
artists from Macedonia, Poland, Slovenia, Zimbabwe and
Germany, we talked about the term “iepen Mienskip”.
Through the conversation, it became clear that we as
human beings are connected by our common needs
and desires and we all face the same challenges and
therefore we are “all in the same boat”, “In hetzelfde schuitje”.
It does matter to us, if our neighbor does not feel well, or if
refugees in the Mediterranean drown on the run, because that
also has consequences for our contemplative life and for
our own well-being.
Inspired by this impression, I began to fold boat-like bodies
of rubber and paint them with thin paint. Boats also play a
central role in the resulting paintings, be it children’s figures,
who look at the floating boats as missed opportunities, or
drawn boats that float in the picture as brittle bodies.

The boat stands as a metaphor for the fragile existence of man and the environment, but also for the conviction of the power of solidarity and mutual acting for a better world.

Martina van de Gey June 13, 2018

Update June 13th by Nika Zupančič

3rd June 2018 – Aldtsjerk – village by Leeuwarden – Man

The cultivated garden. Thoughts flying  from « Hortus conclusus » to Botticelli’s flower encyclopedia and, of course, to Voltaire’s « il faut cultiver son propre jardin « .

Room in the attic. Two horses passing my window parralelly stepping into the frame  from morning till night, entering it once from the right side, next time from the left. White horse followed by the black one or inversely, always moving parallely towards window plane, fluidly, like in a slow motion movie. Eating grass for all this muscular force, curving their necks into the ground, and then, at the falling of night, their elegant silhouettes, their necks erected towards sky,  move into their stable.

4th June – road  pictures   – Animal

Bucolic paysages. Sheep with a golden line along their back at 20 o’ clock at night remind me on Millet’s  paintings from Muséed’ Orsayin Paris. « Les pastorales ».

6th June – Museum Belvédère Friesland –Art

Tinus van Doorn – northern Chagall – what a « découvert » !

Great modern painting collection. For my eyes so essential, so close to my perception of painting. I feel grounded again. Everything happens on the surface, all depth is encompassed within tiny floating layer of paint. Like Dutch horizons. As if you would cut off a piece of a painted canvas – like conservators and restorers do in order to analyse the painting’s layers with a microscope – and observe stripes of different colors built one upon another, similar to archeological remains, suggesting passing of time and evoking silent symphony of endlessness. Horizons.

7th June 2018 –  Schiermonnikoog island – Locus

The unimaginable experience. Like I would step into my imaginary painting. Absolute painting.

But I got sunburned in the seemingly gentlest sun I remember. Nature touches and strikes unexpectedly, so the sublime image of the unreachable horizons showed its teeth and let painful marks on my skin showing concretely its dark side by imprinting and penetrating my vision and skin. The old Romantic poets and painters have proved their thesis here in life, on the margin of endlessness. I am struck by beauty, and yet,  I feel hidden brutality of nature again.


Update June 11th by Vince Briffa

“Because of the change of my studio, I started quite late. I have the feeling that I just started well no. I share the studio with Orhan Kamilov from Macedonia. I changed theme, because of what experiences I had”. To be continued………………………