Designing a cathedral using crochet is not something you hear about every day. Yet this is exactly what occupies Jacqueline Muitjens at the moment. Time to make her acquaintance.
The 55-year-old artist from Nuth [Limburg, the Netherlands] can turn her hand to almost anything. Although she has formal training as a painter, she has never been one to spend time on a specific art form. “There’s too much I like: photography and collages, for example, but also video and more lately working with textiles. I have every admiration for those who choose one art form and stick to it, but that’s not me. I love working with different materials.”
At the moment, she’s especially enamoured by crochet. “My home in Nuth is close to woodland, where I’ve been going ever since I was a child. Whenever I’m there a sudden calm comes over me, as if I’ve just entered a church. I get the same feeling when I crochet, it’s almost trance-like. I feel totally relaxed and my thoughts are clear. As a natural progression to that, I’m now building a mammoth cathedral, one which is unlikely to be finished in the course of a person’s lifetime. My starting point is the sensation I feel in the church and in the woods: this is where I belong and where I feel safe. So the cathedral isn’t meant so much as a literal concept, but instead as its very own world of objects which I can fit in my studio – these may be charcoal drawings, crochets or something else. Some pieces are suspended, others placed on a stand, or else attached to a piece of wood. It is my own idiom.”
Art has always cast a spell on Jacqueline, but because people back in the day were encouraged to take up a vocation, Jacqueline ended up in business. “At a certain point, around twenty years ago, I decided to do something radically different. That’s when my dream came true and I was able to devote myself totally to art. I’m also a carer in everyday life, but I’m always preoccupied with art. For that reason I like to be in my studio at Carbon6 in Heerlen as much as possible.” She has a lot of ambition as an artist. “I want to stay true to myself, but above all, dream of greater things. So I suppose by building a cathedral I’m halfway there already,” she laughs.
The solitary existence she leads as an artist prompted Jacqueline to apply for the Badeklasse, amongst other things for added stimulation and challenge. “David is constantly making links between people and organisations, to bring art as close to everyone as possible. That appeals to me enormously. For me, that was the reason to participate in Badeklasse. What I like most is the fact that you’re forced to leave the comfort of your own studio. I’m constantly having to find my own motivation and work out ideas for myself. Badeklasse is certainly challenging.”
Jacqueline continues: “David always asks interesting questions, has masses of energy and is always involved with projects you can take part in yourself. For example, I’ve already worked on the ‘Look At Me Now’ project in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. For, ‘All You Can Art’ I got to exhibit some of my own work alongside that of one of my fellow Badeklasse artists in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. We were paired up together and the fact that neither of us knew each other worked quite well. She is a completely different artist to me and through our intensive collaboration we learned an awful lot. Your are forced to step out of your comfort zone, but you always come back to yourself. I always aim to give a personal signature to my work.” The project the two of them worked on aimed at interpreting the works of art that David and other colleagues had selected. “For our work we were given a bronze statue of a giraffe. In the end, we came up with an abstract installation, using different kinds of materials; fabrics, boxes, wooden and lots more. Something I would normally never think of making. That’s what makes it such a challenge!”