Gemeentemuseum – The Hague, NL

Francis Bacon

Creeped out in the Bacon room, with Man in Blue and Bruce Nauman’s Carousel.

One month housesit in The Netherlands. In The Hague, Gemeentemuseum houses the best collection of modern art, design and decorative arts.

In The Hague’s Statenkwartier near the Peace Palace, connected to the Fotomuseum Den Haag.

Designed by Dutch architect Hendrik Berlage in 1935, in a geometrical modular grid formation in multiples of 11 cm. The specially made 11 cm yellow bricks used to clad the structure were subsequently marketed as ‘Berlage bricks’.

Renowned for the largest Piet Mondrian collection in the world, including his last work, Victory Boogie-Woogie and modern art including Picasso and Degas, as well as Dutch artist, Jan Toorop. The museum also houses a collection of fashion items shown at temporary exhibitions.

Purchase a Museumkaart and also visit Fotomuseum Den Haag (next door), Museum Mesdag and Mauritshuis for free.

The stunning, newly roofed-in Garden Gallery hosts the Grand Café which serves coffee, lunch and snacks. The Gispen Berlage chair by Richard Hutten, was designed for this space, the bandage dress in chair form!

The Art Deco style restaurant, Gember, has an open-air terrace and garden pavilion overlooking lily ponds.

Since my stay in The Netherlands, I am increasingly interested in the De Stijl movement and its founders. As a graphic and interior designer, the concept of artists and architects working together abstractly reducing to the essentials of form and colour is appealing. It makes sense that I have slowly been painting the interior of my home white!

The Mondrian collection depicts his evolution from landscape painter to abstraction, his inspiration and collaborations with other artists and his dedication to his politics through art. The simple energy of the unfinished (perhaps, intentionally), final work of Mondrian, Victory Boogie-Woogie, painted in anticipation of victory in World War II, seems to be the ultimate summary of his joy for life.


Victory Boogie-Woogie, Piet Mondrian, 1944.

Admittedly, I have very little interest in fashion and tend to be fairly utilitarian and conservative in my style choices, but I did find the latest exhibition on Dutch fashion designers interesting. Historically, the Dutch were heavily influenced by Parisian style with their own twists, such as a penchance for blue. But the recent rise of designers such as Viktor & Rolf and Iris van Herpen have given international recognition to the distinct Dutch style, lots of black and white, and emphasis on clean line and shape, origami anyone?

collignon dress

I’d wear that! Wool dress by Monique Collignon.



Target on her back. Dress and cape by Frans Molenaar.

Museum De Lakenhal – Leiden, NL

museum de lakenhal

Museum de Lakenhal staircase

One month housesit in The Netherlands. Museum De Lakenhal has the best fine art collection in Leiden, the town in which my head rests.

The museum is in central Leiden’s ‘Cultural quarter’ at the Laecken-Halle (Cloth Hall) built in 1640 where the world famous Leiden cloth was inspected and certified.

Leiden’s City Architect, Arent van’s-Gravesande, designed this Dutch Classicist style, city palace in 1639. He also designed Leiden’s Marekerk. In 1869 the building was reconstructed by City Architect, J.W. Schaap, into a city museum, adding a staircase to change the second floor into an exhibition space. The expanding collection later utilized the first floor and then extended into the Pape Wing. The museum plans further restoration and expansion aimed at a 2018 unveiling.

A diverse collection of works by Dutch master painters, including Rembrandt (born in Leiden) and Theo van Doesburg (of Leiden and founder of the influential De Stijl magazine). The history of seven centuries of Leiden cloth can also be experienced in the original sales hall, including hallmarks and sample books.

Purchase a Museumkaart and visit for free, also can be used at Museum Boerhaave, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden and others in Leiden. To celebrate The Relief of Leiden, entrance is free on October 3rd.

There is a small coffee and tea space in the entrance hall. The museum is close to many restaurants in the centre of Leiden.

Happily introduced to the work of Dutch abstract figurative artist Hendrik Valk (1897 – 1986) from his early period when he lived in Leiden. The exhibition clearly demonstrates the process of his abstraction from natural representation, removing details to discover the essence of line.

hendrik valk

Hendrik Valk, Triptych, 1925

The museum is reviving the history of Leiden Cloth by manufacturing a new line of fabric bearing the hallmark ‘Leids Laken’ by commissioning designers, such as Christie van der Haak to develop contemporary fabrics that will be on sale in the museum shop as of 2017.

This museum has a variety of beautiful paintings and objects that illustrate the great history of Leiden as a prosperous trading and university town. Although the birthplace of Rembrandt van Rijn, there is nary a trace of him, and finding him here is a treasure. A small painting called Spectacles Seller (allegory of sight) is one of a series based on the five senses painted by Rembrandt when he was eighteen. I find early works by renown artists are fascinating due to the awkwardness of an artist’s developing style, but often showing hints of what the artist will become, in this instance his use of chiaroscuro and character depiction.


The Spectacle Seller, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1624

Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam, NL

van gogh museum tilleman

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, NL. Photo: Ronald Tilleman

Driving tour of Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. A highly sensitive artist of great renown only after his death, Vincent van Gogh has always intrigued me and the Van Gogh Museum was high on my list of destinations.

Museumplein in Amsterdam South, an open public space which hosts events and festivals, as well as the home to the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum.

Two buildings – the Rietveld Building designed by Gerrit Rietveld, opened in 1973, where the permanent collection is on display. The open central hall is influenced by the De Stijl group of which Rietveld was a member. The elliptical Kurokawa Wing designed by Kisho Kurokawa, completed in 1999, is the museum’s exhibition wing.

The New Entrance Hall, using the latest glass construction techniques, has recently opened. The structure is between the two buildings giving better access to both of them.

The largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh, more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 of his letters. As well as other artists of the 19th century, who inspired him and those whom he inspired.

Purchase a Museumkaart and also visit the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum for free.

Tambourin cafe

Heart in my coffee cup at Le Tambourin Cafe.

Le Tambourin café has a lovely view of Museumplein and the Kurokawa Wing.

To celebrate the opening of the new entrance in September 2015, a sunflower labyrinth was created in front of it. The 125,000 sunflowers were given away at the end of the day, it would have been amazing to see the whole of Amsterdam in yellow.

Although The Starry Night is in the MOMA’s permanent collection in New York, I was fortunate that it was on loan to the Van Gogh Museum during my visit, for only the second time in the museum’s history. This painting is proof that art should be experienced, up-close and personal, the thick sweeping brush strokes and vibrant colours elicit a turbulent emotional response. Painted at the asylum in Saint Rémy, one can imagine how the image might’ve correlated to his erratic behaviour at the time.

“This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big,” Vincent in a letter to his brother, Theo.

Gain insight into the artist’s pained psyche in Vincente Minnelli’s Lust for Life. Capital “T” Torture for Kirk Douglas (chin thankfully covered with beard). For a more touching portrayal, Vincent &Theo, depicts the complicated, symbiotic relationship between Vincent (a great performance by a young Tim Roth) and his supportive brother.