Mariëtte van der Ven (1967) Lives and works in Nieuwendijk, The Netherlands
Who visits the studio of Mariëtte van der Ven is overwhelmed by an oasis of greenery, an environment she created with her own hands when she moved into her current home and studio with husband and children 15 years ago. Her love for nature, like her love for people, is deeply rooted. The choice she made to return to the countryside after her study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam also has to do with this. She seeks the peace and quiet she needs to create her work in silence and finds it in nature. Working in the garden and taking long walks with the dogs bring her in the right state for making her ceramic sculptures.
a sculptor rather than a ceramicist, at some point she began working with clay
as a medium to shape her sculptures. She was looking for a material that she
could keep scraping and fiddling with until she liked it and ended up with
clay. Initially it was a clay with chamotte in which she used a glaze as a
skin. As her sculptures became more and more human images she began to see
glaze as a limitation, it was a shiny layer that created distance instead of
showing the sophistication in the faces. By chance she came across
porcelain clay and decided to experiment with it. Porcelain really turned
out to be a very different material than clay with chamotte and required a lot
of practice and patience. Porcelain challenged her to work very fine and
detailed, which she found and finds appropriate in certain works. It lends
itself very well to getting the right expression in a sculpture and comes very
close to human skin.
Lately, she felt the need to work in less detail and, in addition to working with porcelain, she started working with chamotte clay again. She also began to study the application of sculptural glazes that give the sculptures a poetic charge.
In Mariëtte’s sculptures, human appearance plays the main role. However, she is never concerned with the likeness or perfection of the portrait or figure but she uses the figures to tell a story which is sometimes poetic, sometimes uncomfortable and other times activist. In her recent work, natural elements and animals take on an increasing role. “The concern I have about man’s destructive influence on nature has become the main subject in my work in recent years,” she says of the shift in her work. “It has not been a conscious choice, but a commitment, a logical consequence of the developments around us: climate change, wars, nitrogen problems and others. The work is about how humans interact with nature, but also with animals, with the earth. From my position as an artist, I have the opportunity to make a statement through my work. And growing up in the 80s I certainly won’t let that.”