by Sen McGlinn and Sonja van Kerkhoff, 1996 (1998 remade)


  1996, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2008     

in het nederlands

Memorials (Gedenktekens),
Het Zuiderpark, The Hague, 1998.

Memorials (Gedenktekens), Arcen Castle Gardens,
(KasteelTuinen Arcen), The Netherlands, 1996.
Here the text was in Dutch, English, French and German.

Our work often is concerned with art as experience, combining the conceptual with the physical. In Memorials, the viewer first encounters a plaque with the text of a story about a feminine spirit's encounter with a garden, which ends with her leaving her clothing behind as sign of mercy (memory).

Memorials (Gedenktekens), Kasteltuinen Arcen (The Arcen Castle Gardens), 1996.

Just beyond the plaque (with the text) was a dress form of ceramic tiles imbedded into the ground.

The fairytale-like story helps to emphasize the aspect of process in this art in a language familiar to the visitors so that their response to the art is their response to the tale.

The art experience is a combination of the story, the garden and the tile memorial.

Memorials (Gedenktekens, Gedenksteine, Mémorial),
Kasteeltuinen Arcen (The Arcen Castle Gardens, The Netherlands).

Kasteeltuinen Arcen (The Arcen Castle Gardens, The Netherlands).

Introduction to the story
When I first visited the Arcen Castle Gardens I (Sonja) realised that this work would need to have a 'story' to help the visitors to relate to this work as well as to help 'fit' the work into a public context such as these gardens.

Rather than serving as a bridge to connect the visitor with the ceramic tiles, the story is in fact the art and the tiles are relics. Leftovers from an act of creation.

2008   Dage[d]raad | Threads of the Day,
Leids Wevershuis, (The Leiden Museum of Weaving), Leiden, The Netherlands

2004  Oceania,
Terp Kerk, Urmond, Limburg, The Netherlands

2001  Dans le jardin de beux arts,
The ARS AEMULA NATURAE gallery courtyard, Leiden, The Netherlands

1998  Kruidentuin,
Het Zuiderpark, (Large Public Park) in The Hague, organized by STROOM, The Hague centre for the arts, The Netherlands

1996  Kasteeltuinen Arcen, The Arcen Castle Gardens, Arcen, The Netherlands

  View postcard, 2001

Cover of the booklet of the text produced in Dutch, English, German and French for the 1996 exhibition. The walnuts have insets of other works of art. Here: Left to Right are: Virtue of the Rose, Mycelium, Ablutions and I tend to see...

The story was written in English and has been translated into the following languages.

Nederlands  Deutsch   Français  

Arabic version to come

Currently only the Dutch, German and English versions are here.


a transcendent experience

There was green and sunshine all around as she entered the garden. All she had to do was to concentrate on the exceptions, the particularities, and there it was full of diversity: wild and tame plants in various combinations.

Memorials (Gedenktekens), The story (and book), 1996.
This artist book presented the story in Dutch, English, German and French.

Memorials (Gedenktekens), The story (and book), 1996.
A page in French and one in English.

Yes, there was magic too or perhaps wonder would be a better description. For she could feel a response from the garden towards her; a warming. Much like a spring after a long winter, when things gradually begin to surface and new ideas
take shape.

Now even her
seemed rather plain
with its rows and limitations.

The garden was so inviting that she decided to take her garment off
and she spread it
on the ground.

Memorials, detail of two rows of the 2001 installation.
We planted Forget-me-not plants between the tiles.
By the end of the exhibition some had grown over the tiles.

Below: A resident of The Hague reading the Arabic translation.

It seemed funny that it ever fitted her. It never had.

It was just a vessel
to contain her spirit,
and that
it could never do completely since she had
always been able to look out of the windows.

Memorials, the 2001 installation.

Pages of the English in the book were images of our children playing in a bath of walnuts.

Gosh, she'd worn the thing for so long now that she felt naked without it.

No, more,
she felt she'd shed herself.
It was frightening
for her yet
none of the new ideas around
seemed to notice.

As time passed and her skin could breathe more of the garden, she realised that it was just habit that made the garment feel as if it was who she was.

She felt silly for ever believing that it had been
- silly for feeling frightened
- silly for treating it as an act of rebellion when all she had to do was take it off. So simple really.

Memorials (Gedenktekens), Kasteeltuinen Arcen
(The Arcen Castle Gardens, The Netherlands), 1996.

Six of the sculptures in the 1998 exhibition in the Herb Gardens
of the park, The Hague. Memorials is on the left in the photo.
Yet after, first sitting in some wild trees, then testing the waters
of the garden,
she returned to where
her dress was.

She felt that she owed it
to history
- for all the people and
all the houses
and all the streets still
- to leave it
as a token
of mercy.

As a reminder of
what we can wear and

Detail towards the end of the 1996 three month installation.

Pages of the Dutch in the book. Drawings by Sonja ( View Details ).
( From the Essences and Particularities Series ).

She lay
on the dress
and hugged
the earth that
had given her
a place
and sank deep
into its body.

she was
floating up
into the skies
her spirit.

And entranced
of each,

Above: 2001 installation in a Leiden gallery courtyard.

Left: 1996 installation in the Arcen Castle Gardens.
Below: 1998, with Hague Arabic-speakers and tourists from Morocco.

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