08 July, 2005

World Nature Art

Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam
July 2 – October 23, 2005

From July 2 to October 23, 2005 the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam in conjunction with Staatsbosbeheer (the Dutch Forestry Commission) will present the major exhibition World Nature Art on nature in art. Some 175 objects from many Dutch collections and several museum and private collections in other countries will be used to show the image of nature in four world cultures: the West, Islam, the East and the indigenous peoples. But apart from being a superb collection of artworks in a spectacular setting, this is an exhibition with a purpose. The Forestry Commission has taken this initiative in order to ‘bring nature to the city’, not only for people’s enjoyment, but chiefly to make it clear that each of us has an image of nature that is determined by our culture.

The comparison between Western, Islamic, Eastern and indigenous works of art depicting nature makes this clear. And that image of nature in turn determines the specific way each of us acts in nature. The exhibition World Nature Art aims to make visitors aware of how they (and others) deal with nature, which is largely determined (and limited) by their own cultural roots.

The idea for the exhibition came from the 2001 publication Nature as Image, written by Professor Matthijs Schouten for the Forestry Commission. He is Professor of Nature and Landscape Protection at the University of Cork (Ireland) and of the Ecology of Natural Recovery at the University of Wageningen (Holland). In this book he describes and compares the image of nature in the religion, philosophy and art of several cultures at various times. It is profusely illustrated with works of art embodying the views of nature discussed.

The physical limitations of an exhibition forced the organizers to choose four cultures (or rather cultural groups), although they are wide-ranging: the West, Islam, the East and the indigenous peoples. Despite the fact that there is religious, regional and historical diversity within these cultural groups, one can see great similarities in the approach to and depiction of nature. And there are often major differences between the cultural groups. The key was an ingenious design based on four circles lying around each other, one for each cultural group. Along the fifteen rays, which intersect all the circles, a thematic comparison is made between the cultures. At the end of the rays stand columns 20 feet high, which hold up a round cove that passes straight through the nave and aisles. As if Stonehenge had landed in the Nieuwe Kerk.

From Holland


The nieuwe kerk (new church) was built in 1408,
compared to the oude kerk (old church) which was commenced in 1309.

No comments: