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a collection of blog posts on a 'Meetings' theme.
Visit the Meetings gallery to view and purchase works in this collection.

Rapture, mixed media on canvas

Rapture, mixed media on canvas

My new babies

'The first Tomato Babies', photo by Clemens Vermeulen. Yesterday I left Sydney after six lovely days at Kevin and my sister Margaretha's and I met the new grand niece, a beautiful big eyed baby Nina. So tiny at two months. So helpless but secure. Unconditional love, for sure. I looked into her beautiful blueish eyes. The Ego was still aglow and a mother's reflection. The dimple under her tiny nose was profound and we all know it is the finger imprint of her guardian angel. When Nina arrived safely on Earth the angel said: 'this little baby I will be with forever...' I am sixty-tree years old and still can feel the occasional brush of a feather. Sometimes I can even hear a flutter of wings I am sure. Are we humans born as amateurs? I have no doubt nor embarrassment in knowing that I am an artist. I prefer the term 'painter', but I must have started as an amateur. I hate to think about it too much but I know two or three people called artists that I think of as amateur after years of painting. Conversely there is a self-proclaimed amateur whom I call an artist, nietwaar Suze? But what is the difference? If things can be thought of in a triangular shape like: I stand here, you stand there and the third position is covered in a bi-focused fashion. What I mean is what I see, you see. And in the third position we see both sides. I can only be happy with my own painting when all my senses are satisfied. When the painting is finished something is separated from me. I do indeed look at it as if it is my new baby. Probably, my new painting doesn't need a guardian angel. They look after the amateurs and their paintings. Is this maybe the difference between an amateur and an artist? And my friends, artists, Roeland Zijstra and Ruth had their baby , de kleine prins Hepke. In the plane I reminisced about my remarkable family who, in their kindness treat me like some eastern Peacock prince. All colorful feathers. Images of my own guardian angel, maybe? But I am back home. In the far northern tropical part of Australia and at home my guardian angel can go and have a long deserved sleep. As I am not alone. The Eskimo is back, Jill! The tomato plant had also given birth to two blood red tomato babies. And my walk to infinity continues.With a warm heart. Just a thought. When two people are in love, where are their amorphous angels? phb
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The warm Eskimo in my Sanctum Sanctorum

'Sanctum Santorum, acrylic on canvas, 900x900.
Yesterday I woke up with what I jokingly call my 'post natal depression'. The colours in my head were red, orange, pink and black.

I am going on a trip tomorrow. To Sydney. The distance from Cairns to Sydney is more or less the same as from Exeter in the UK to Tripoli in Tunisia at a cool 2400 km at 32,000 feet.

Or from Amsterdam to a sunny spot on the coast some 184 km south of Istanbul in Turkey.

Makes me think of the many many times I flew Amsterdam to Lisbon (1861 km) and back. The Terena village taxi would be waiting for me at the airport. Senhor Ignacio, the taxi driver, often had some villagers with him who may have needed medical attention or made a visit to a grandchild in Lisbon.

In those days I'd go somewhere, only to come back to want to go away again, even further.

Now I painted the place to come back to. And the painting will be hanging where I rest my head at night.

It's never cold in the Igloo for this Eskimo, remember?

In Sydney, I will meet the very last addition of my colourful family, Nina Shirlaw, daughter of Abigale and David, daughter in law and son of Kevin and Margaretha Shirlaw, brother-in-law and sister of Norman and Sally Bakker, my brother and sister-in-law, parents of Angela, Vanessa and Jeremy, cousins of Jenny, our actress Deborah and x-box enthusiast Peter Woodley-Page, son of Ursula and David. Nina Shirlaw is great grand child number 8 or 9 to my parents Joan and Arie Bakker, grand parents also of my daughter, the soprano Renate Arends.

Who thinks we are not tribal.

I've been in Cairns now more than 9 months. It feels like it was a successful pregnancy. Looking back over the work I have done here I cannot hide a smile; all these births. Natural or cesarean? A smile of gratitude. Not only the paintings. But having arrived where I know I am to be.

I had nothing to do but start a painting with the colours I woke up with this morning. A 'Going away' painting about the before mentioned (yesterdays writing) Sanctum Sanctorum.

I did it with the speed of lighting. Finished, varnished and given a fresh new cot.

I'll be back.


Sanctum Sanctorum

Sanctum Sanctorum

Last painting- for today

'Last Painting- for today', acrylic on canvas, 900x900.
I told you before we buried the pussy under the banana tree and on the actual place a potato vine is growing and looking very well and strong. I imagine (as a painter of roots ) the tentacles under the ground growing and worming their way through the earth and through pussy.

So when the banana tree pops its fruit next time, will I eat the fruit? Will I think the fruit has our pussycats flavor?

This canvas is again in a way a good-bye to a period of time. I used several familiar figures. The little flying lady is back and my usual notations on the canvas and as always the sign I have tattooed on my groin, a word written in my secret writing I have used since I was 7 or 8 years old. Also a few comments on where, how and why.

But getting back to the banana tree and its fruit. It is like a painting in a way. Like the banana, my canvas is also carrying the traces of a cat.

When I am in a dreamy mood, when I cannot sleep or simply am speedy, I imagine my ideal dream studio. It has a polished cement floor (Daniel's Hiperfloor) and a view to kill. Huge and stacked to the rafters with beautiful virgin Belgian canvasses, all 1200x1200 and all the Swiss Lascaux paint I need.

But all this only if I don't have to be alone.

I am not... :-)


Who's there?

'Who's there?', acrylic on canvas, 1200x1200
Who! not 'what is there?'. This painting was made during some turmoil. Normal stuff: 'Do I want to be alive?', 'What's up there?' etc., etc., etc. Why paint? That is so terrible easy. I paint because I love doing it and I am not very good at much more. This painting started with all the emotional splashy painty stuff, with little memories and feelings, and then the Wehrmacht comes in and 'places' shapes and forms on the surface by cutting them out first, the shapes I'm talking about, and then 'tamponeren', dabbing them on with paints and shablones. Then again when it all looks too tidy splish plash. Sure that was a song some time ago. Well, I live now, 2008, so I'll pop over to Youtube and look the song up! Bobby Darrin of all people. Just some time ago I saw for the second time the film about his life with for me, no doubt, one of the most dedicated and through and through actors around, Kevin Stacey. But hell, I'm writing about the painting: 'Who's there?' An added thing is the canvas I bought at a cheap shop called Overflow ( nicest staff in town, love 'm) is so terribly skew-whiff it confuses the mind!But then again, I did drag the poor painting around the garden en hosed it twice to get the 'unpredictable' affect. Whatever ones thoughts are about The Unknown, The Inexplicable, The Infinite, surely we simply know Something is buzzing around, or not? I most certainly didn't know what I was doing. I just did it. Last night I hung the painting on the wall in our living room, as I do every night with what I am working on, and had a good look. Clemens sayd something nice:' The flowers stood their own right against the dark back ground. Jeremy Bakker, my beloved nephew and fellow painter, remarked that I was painting another tree, no? As I was saying, last night we were having a look. A cup of coffee and a siggie (bad,bad,bad- hate those adds on tv about smoking)( so try the other smoke, no?) and again I started to think about actually going into that painting. With my mind ofcourse. I am not completely mad.But I don't want to do that. Nor do I want to know more, understand more. I have once written that as long as nobody can explain infinity, we shouldn't ask too many questions. Lets face it, if I knew what would happen etc etc etc. But to paint is my personal flirtation with the unknown.

Tropical Meetings

'Tropical Meeting', acrylic on canvas, 500x700. I have been obsessed with meeting new peoples of cultures I am still ignorant of. Manners and etiquette are so important to new cultures first contact. Imagine you are invited to have dinner at Buckingham Palace. You would try and not make too many mistakes. It would be important to know if you are having dinner with Elizabeth Rex or her footman, no? Why? You want to make sure your tribe is recognisable. Not to feel like a pork chop in a synagogue as I once heard. I had a dream some time ago, in Armidale, NSW, in 2007. I entered a large house. A grey stone house and had to get to the attic. I ran through a room full of people. Like a cocktail party. Indira Gandhi was there too. As I ran to the back of the house I passed a door into a very large space. All wooden floors and brown/greenish colours. I was aware somebody else was there too but I wasn't intrested in knowing who. I ran up a small wooden flight of stairs and in the attic I saw a double bed with a kitten and a puppy. I tidied the room up. The 'other' was in the attic now too. I took the puppy and he took the kitten. As I left the attic I thought for the first time: 'who is he?' He spoke, but told me not to forget to turn off the lights. Asshole. I finally looked him in the face and it was me. Myself. Me/him with a kitten and me with a pup. I walked up to him and kissed him on the mouth. He tasted like licorice. I thought: 'I want to taste that again.' so I did. 'The Rooms', acrylic on canvas, 3000x1000. But the important thing was I liked myself. Better than not, no? I painted not what I had seen but only empty rooms. I was going to put in bodies later but so many people like the painting empty as an ode to perspectives. Some day I might put two bodies in the painting, kissing or not? But why was I so weak to leave the painting as it is? Because I wanted to please? Let's face it: two 'identicals' kissing would be too much maybe? As a teenager, I worked in an Indonesian restaurant kitchen as a 'help' to one or other of the all female team of chefs (kokkies in Indonesian) and the old girls would habitually embarrass me by touching my 'giggle' places. You know, slapping on your bum etc. Also, never touch edible food with your left hand. In Portugal you are always offered of the food the person has. A Shepperd cannot eat without 'permission'. Asked and granted. Nothing special but imagine the first meeting of the Indians and the Spanish. Or the Australian Aboriginal and White Man. Smell is one thing and dress or the lack of it another. Bodies are all decorated with some recognisable sign to members of the same clan etc., etc., etc. I saw a clip on Australian TV made by bunch of young and sexy Aboriginal dancers from the Northern Territory. Tall, skinny and black with white painted patterns. To start with you see a nice 'mob' of bodies moving in a way you would expect. Then these clever guys introduce 'European' movements and some are so recognisably the 'fat drunk white man' or the 'silly empty headed disco movers'. It is so good and so terribly funny I hope you can click on the link and have a look on YouTube. I have learned from these guys a fresh look on looking! Click here: Zorba the Greek Yolngu style The painting above I made a few months ago and is entitled simply a 'Tropical Meeting'. But these guys know each other. I was telling Clemens I feel I see the world moving in front of my eyes but I am sitting on a fence. I feel I can see history in the making but I am more than ever impressed we have so many people, thus so many ways of looking at something, anything. Even the big GOD thing, we all have our opinion, some people like to form a group of so called likewise thinkers. Same with painting. I don't know if I belong to anything but the 21st Century. Don't know but please have a look at the dancers. phb

Meet the Creator

Meet the Creator

(click image to enlarge)

Painted in Armidale, NSW, during a most unsettled time while sharing a house with three musketeers.

Once a day, better, once a night, before I can start building my dream village with dream studio, before I lie down and snuggle up, I like to stand still and imagine a black hole and enter it a little. Not go in and then imagine love and protection housing there. Very close. That's all I do to touch the Inexplicable and the Infinite.

'Meet the Creator' is held by Brent Harvey, Armidale

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