photo by Marian Bijlenga

Marian Bijlenga PortraitDutch artist, Marian Bijlenga, recently compiled this group of miniatures reflecting 30 years of her artistic career, which she reckons is just a halfway point. Below she talks about her process, adapted from an interview by Manufactured Design By Architects (MDBA). The Spanish firm creates spaces that stir emotions and locates decorative elements and furniture to suit. It sources artists, like Marian Bijlenga, who inspire its work and interviews them at MDBY. MDB Architects.


Blue Holes, DetailI studied at the textile design department of Rietveld Art Acdaemy in Amsterdam (1977-1982), but I developed the techniques I use myself. When I studied textiles, I began by learning to weave, but for me, weaving was too slow. It took a lot of time before you could start, and I did not like the technique. I was looking for a more direct way of working. I took the threads held by the loom and began instead to make drawings, stiffening the fiber by dipping it in glue. 1986-1994.AMeander DetailIt was a much freer technique. But glue and thread are not very durable, so I was looking for a material that was stiff on its own, and discovered the horsehair. The fiber provides the necessary strength and flexibility to construct embroidered compositions of lines and dots.
JAPAN 3 DetailMy work is less preplanned and more of a natural process: it grows. The production may seem as painstaking as weaving, but it is the immediacy of the process that is important to me. I make one element and give it a place on my wall, and then I make another element, so the work grows until I like it. The work itself is meticulous, but I see the construction of each individual element as just the beginning. After I have the pattern pinned on my wall, then the real work starts. In the beginning, it is like playing. Then, finally, I use water-soluble fabric and make a drawing on it, so I know how to attach the pieces. Then I use monofilament to attach the small pieces to each other, and finally it all becomes one big piece. You only need some pins at the top of the piece to hang it on the wall. When seen with the right amount of natural light, the work seems to float just in front of the wall, defying gravity.

Palimpsest 1, DetailMuch of my early work was inspired by calligraphy, but I explored the positive and negative, abstracted shapes created by calligraphic forms, instead of its narrative possibilities, It is very interesting when I cannot read the words — the rhythm of the writing, the space between the letters and the connections between the lines. It is still a source of inspiration, but my work has grown more abstract. Nature is more important than writing. Small circles, ovals and streaks grow into compositions that map positive and negative space.
 I am fascinated by dots, lines and contours, by their rhythmical movements and the empty spaces they confine. The shadow on a white wall is an essential part of my work. By leaving some space between my structure and the wall, the object is freed from its background and interacts with the white wall. I need the silence of a white wall.
COLOR DOTS SPRING ZEELAND DetailAdvice I’d give to others: Be guided by what happens around you. Don’t try too hard to direct, plan, master everything. For me, it is more important to be led by what crosses your path, the accidental encounter, things that happen outside yourself.