Delft: Then & Now, Anne Fehres & Luke Conroy

Last week we started our research for ‘’The City’’ project. We have looked into the history of the city we are working and living in – Delft, The Netherlands. This is also a new city for us, as we just moved here three weeks ago. Delft is a very picturesque city with 16th and 17th Century architecture and many water veins; the canals. In our initial explorations of the city, we have spent a large amount of time walking about, as observers in our city, alongside researching the history of this place.

Above: Historic map of Delft, 1649

A lot of this research into Delft, has orientated around what is known as the ‘Dutch Golden Age’. This period, the 16th and 17th Century, is known for the period of time where the Dutch men were travelling over the world and The Netherlands became a rich country, with taking possessions from elsewhere home. From exotic spices, animals, tea, porcelain, shells, rocks to gold and silver. In these centuries artists and scientists became important for the city and laid the groundwork for what we now define as modern society today. Walking around Delft today, we can see evidence of this history.

Image Above: We have collected images from various artists who can inspire our creative experiments

We are also interested to learn about the artists that came before us in this city – what did they have to say and how is this similar or different to our point of view? During the Dutch Golden Age many artists were interested in painting somber scenes through the lens of Christian religious traditions, often underscoring life’s transience (rotting fruit, withered flowers, and slowly draining hourglasses offer sobering examples of memento mori, reminders of death). Scholars assess the artist’s skill in employing an array of visual effects in these banquet scenes, floral arrangements, or vanitas paintings. 

After this research, we have become interested in how the form of still life can offer an uncanny perspective on our own times, in which globalism and consumer culture seem to be reaching a peak. We want to ask ourselves the question: What is living in the city in the 21st Century? What would a still life look like if painted today? To answer such questions, we plan to experiment with the creation of a surreal and absurd still life that is a critical and humorous comment on daily life in the 21st Century and the city of Delft. In this work we plan to use popular imagery, technology and everyday life objects to make a playful scene.

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