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QCP is taking the works of twelve Australian photo-media artists to Photo LA (15 – 18 January 2015) and Photo Contemporary (1 – 3 May 2015). This series of focus interviews gives an insight into the selected artists.

How did you first become interested in art and photography?
I think I have always been interested in art, in The Netherlands where I grew up I was surrounded by it. I can remember when my parents commissioned an artist to make a painting of one of the twelve apostles (St Paul). My parents did not have much money and they had three little children at the time but it did not stop them buying art. I grew up with this paining on the wall, a beautiful head and shoulder portrait with Rembrandt lighting.

My first camera was a cheap plastic thing simple but it did the job. My real interest in the arts came when I came to Australia for a working holiday I was inspired by this new world and its stories. Before I came to Australia I was interested in writing short stories my photography (documentary style) became an extension of this. During my University years I would set out on extended photo shoots to experienced and photographed the life of the working class (Australian Jackaroo, mine workers, sugar industry, fishermen and many more).  Some of the photographs I created were influenced by the paintings that surrounded me back home including the once at my parents house.

What work are you showing in LA?
The work for Photo LA is new work with the title Water Line.

During the Second World War more then 8000 farms were destroyed in The Netherlands. A large number of these farms were destroyed In May 1940 by the Dutch army to clear the fields and create a large shooting range against the fast approaching German army.

The clearing of the fields was part of the Grebbe Line; first established in 1745 as a line of defense to protect The Netherlands from invading armies. If an invasion was imminent, parts of the area between Spakenburg and the Grebbeberg were to be flooded. Until World War II it was never actually used for this purpose.

The City of Amersfoort (were my father’s side of the family is from) is in the northern part of the Grebbe Line. In the early hours of May 10th, as the German army invaded The Netherlands, the Dutch army evacuated the area north of Amersfoort, destroyed a total of 80 farms and flooded the fields. Several of these farmlands belonged to my family.

While my family always lived in the area, I knew very little about the local knowledge of the war times. Every now and then my grandparents or parents would tell us stories about an extraordinary event but the details and scope of the operations was largely misunderstood. It is the personal stories that remained with me. One in particular is about the evacuation of the area and then a return to a destroyed home.

The artworks in ‘water line’ combines two techniques; one the historical archival photographic image from 1940 and the other is the narrative created by etching the print. The etching is a combination of outlining the existing image, creating a silhouette of the photographic subject and scraping away the outside areas, drawing on what I imagined the flooded landscape to look like and my memory of the landscape as I saw it years later.

What are your plans for 2015?
2015 will be much the same as the previous years (which is a good thing) creating work and running diverse education projects for University students and communities and keeping an eye on arts opportunities and competitions.

2015 will start with Photo LA. I am very fortunate to have QCP international showcase my work for another year, their support has been instrumental to my creative development and international exposure. It was through their support that I have been able to sign up with my first commercial gallery. Gallerie Kunst Komplex (Wuppertal, Germany) who will also represent my work at Photo LA 2015. In May I will be exhibiting my work at Photo Contemporary again through QCP.

The rest of the year will be a combination of research, experimentation, and creating new works for diverse projects and a solo show during the second part of 2015. I enjoy the diverse  levels of creation from research to photography to the etching component. In my art practice it is a slow contemplative process, which often involves classical music.

For more information about Henri van Noordenburg and the LA program, please visit the new QCP International website and Henri van Noordenburg’s website.

Banner image: Henri van Noordenburg

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