“Denken met het potlood is als een indrukwekkend schouwspel in de diepte van de oceaan, waar de fantasie geen grenzen kent.” (M.P.)


'The Whispering of the Turtle' (Il sussurro della tartaruga')

Introduction by  Manuela De Leonardis, 2022

“As slow as a turtle” is a saying that refers to the longevity, wisdom and moderation of both turtles and tortoises, which are symbols of happiness and fortune. So why not reflect on the elegance of these wonderful animals, on how effortlessly they carry their own history, their home, and even the sacredness we invested them with?

Nature has given a great deal of fabulous ideas to Marjo Postma, ever since she ran into a turtle in the depth of the warm and clear waters of the coral reef in Hurghada, the Red Sea, Egypt. It was 1992 and it was still uncontaminated there.

To the artist, scuba diving - more than snorkeling - is a door to a liquid world full of wonders, where she remembers following the hypnotic spinning of bold and curious fishes of different colors and shapes. The Hawksbill sea turtle did not look afraid either. On the contrary, it swam around the scuba diver - who was spellbound by its beauty - as curious as her.

Even today, when in need of energy and imagination, Marjo Postma goes back to that encounter and those pure feelings instantly come back to life. Perhaps in the few seconds when she saw the turtle she felt like when, as a child, she raptly watched the documentaries by Jacques-Yves Cousteau on TV. “Fish have a blank face, yet their life is just adventurous… who knows what’s on their mind”, she would wonder. She has kept asking herself the same question over time.

From the 1990s to 2008 the wildlife seen through a tv screen was a recurring subject of Postma’s photographic works. Back then, she used to work as a sound engineer for films and documentaries. It was an exciting job that got her travelling all over the world, until her need to express herself solely through her art became so pressing that she had to make up her mind.

From the early 2000s, the artist has started to experiment again with techniques and materials in her studio in Amsterdam - drawings on paper with mixed techniques (pencil, watercolor), collage, ceramics and installations. Postma loves to superimpose and recycle, therefore she keeps going back to her works to add breaks, erasures, new signs, new layers of color until you can clearly see her signature at the bottom of the paper.

In 2019 she continued to make new works on paper like the series Pentimento, architecture for the turtle, which comes from a roll of ancient architectural technical drawings from 1924 found on the farm her sister bought near Maastricht, in the South of Holland. Such precious material served as a starting point for free associations and the organic growth in this series. This allowed Postma to initiate a dialectical exchange between her rational and irrational sides.

The memory of the encounter with the turtle made its way in these new sketches and drawings. Sometimes this reference is unequivocal as she outlines the shell of the turtle, other times it is just a quick and vague hint. Altogether these “visual notes” look almost like a diary where the artist shares her thoughts, identifying herself with the turtle. Furthermore, her choice of colors always derives from the inspiration of the moment.

Marjo Postma’s artistic process is variable and ever-changing, and she also works with images and feelings that appear in her dreams.

The exhibition 'The Whispering of the Turtle' is the ideal continuation of the editorial project 'Notes on Nature + how to conceal a giant turtle'(2021). Just like the artistic publication, it includes ceramics from the series Rare Specimen (2020), drawings and textile works (Tuftie) made at the end of 2020 using a technique called “tufting”,  where you poke the wool yarn through the back of the canvas with an electric tufting gun.

The artist – who studied textile and drawing at the Gelderse Leergangen in Nijmegen before attending the Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam and being awarded the Prix de Rome in 1984 (she will visit the Eternal City many times after that) – uses the very same gestural expressiveness when she works on textile art as when she draws. The rhythm is also the same – the tufting gun, like the pencil and the brush, gives her plenty of leeway in rendering the theme of the turtle into a concrete object.

“Why not get the turtle a wardrobe?”, she said to herself one day.

This is how, with a hint of irony and a lot of playfulness, the works of the series Garments for the turtle, Dream coats were born. There is in them a conceptual contrast between the softness of the wool and the hardness of the shell that contains all the vital organs of the turtle. Protection and warmth, but also elegance and style, are all fashion distinctive elements. After all, who would not want a "coat to dream"?

 

From Leeuwarder Courant of January 21, 2022

Text by Dirk van Ginkel.

MUGA shows the work of three artists who deal with very different themes. It is striking that Sjoukje Iedema, Marjo Postma and Geertje de Boer process many different types of materials and apply different techniques. What they have in common is that they somehow use textiles in their work.

Underwater adventure.

Marjo Postma is inspired by nature. On her website she shows photos of plants and animals – mostly taken under water – that give her ideas. She took many of those photos herself. As a child, already amazed by the TV documentaries of the French marine researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau, she started to discover the underwater world herself. In addition to an enormous amount of photos, she has also collected many 'nautical objects' over the years, such as shells and sponges. All their wonderful forms find a place in her work, which consists of drawings, paintings, embroidery, ceramics, bronze and wall objects.

MUGA made a choice with 'Between heaven and earth' and shows brightly colored tufties, drawings and the installation 'Everything floats'.

You cannot always relate Postma's work one-on-one to existing animals or plants, but that is not necessary at all to be able to feel her fascination. Everything breathes the organic formal language of fish, snails, smallpox, jellyfish, plants and waving seaweeds.

Postma manages to beautifully capture the movement and multi-colouredness of nature in her own associative visual language. This works best in her drawings, which are given an extra mythical layer of mysterious light due to the tinted paper on which they are made.

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'Symbiosis'@ SEA Foundation Tilburg. September 2020.

This text is published in the catalogue on the occasion of Marjo Postma’s exhibition ‘Symbiosis’ at SEA Foundation Tilburg in september 2020.
The exhibition and catalogue are supported by Mondriaan Fonds.

‘Symbiosis’ is a solo exhibition that contains ceramic works and drawings by Amsterdam based artist
Marjo Postma. Marjo Postma mainly works on paper, using pencil, ink and watercolour.
Recently she delved into the possibilities of clay and glazes during a three-month residency
at the European Ceramic Work Centre (EKWC) in Oisterwijk (NL). For Postma the impressive presence of large scale ovens and all-round technical support opened the way for new discoveries in an unfamiliar medium.
In addition to the recently produced drawings, the results of the artist’s residency at the EKWC can be viewed in this exhibition.
Marjo Postma is inspired by nature. As a child, she used to watch the TV series on the scientific expeditions of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. This renowned sea explorer went around the globe in the seventies of the previous century, exploring various regions of the underwater world to unlock it’s secrets.
The subaquatic adventures of Cousteau sparked Postma’s interest in the shapes of submerged sea life.
Over time Marjo Postma gathered a large collection of inspiring and colourful images of underwater flora and fauna, which she uses directly and indirectly to create her work. Now these images have become like memoried libraries for her. In Marjo Postma’s own words: “I used to travel a lot, I saw a lot, I used to dive a lot. All the images are now in my head and diving is no longer necessary.”
Marjo Postma’s work is created intuitively using drawing expression and experience with pencil and sometimes with watercolour. Her work is non-linear and associative. One can get in our out at any time.
In that sense, het drawings are like the internet, one big rhizome that takes you from one thing to another via hyperlinks. Lately, the artist created herbarium drawings and some of them can be seen in the exhibition. In herbaria drawings, objects are placed next to each other, mainly functional and by what fits on the sheet of paper.
The herbarium sheets illustrate well how Marjo Postma works come into being.
Things that flow into the mind, as well as shapes that happen to be nearby, can just pop up in a drawing. Likewise, scientific drawings in which one can see organisation at the functional level, without thinking about composition, appeal to her. These kind of drawings can be found in abundance on the internet. In that sense the internet has influenced Marjo Postma because het vocabulary can be supplemented again and again by new findings while browsing. “Sometimes it happens that 2 shapes are next to each other on my table or in the newspaper, that inspires me.”
In the Artistbook ‘Rare Specimen’ Marjo Postma shows the accidental gatherings, which of course are sometimes, but mostly not, coincidental. These arrangements catch her eye and actually, in all doing, Postma’s gaze is always searching for them.

Ceramic experiment.
Marjo Postma understands and trusts the paper, pencils, crayons and watercolour that she works with. In the onset of producing new works, she refraines from devising a fixed plan. When working on paper this intuitive approach suits her very well but it cannot be sustained when working with clay as the work process of ceramics is much less intuitive. The work requires planning because the end result only comes to life after an intensive process of building, drying, firing and glazing. The media that Marjo Postma works with, guide her while producing works on paper. For working with clay and glazes she welcomes an experiment with space and time and by working on several pieces at the same time.
For example in the handling of the materials and the patience that has to be exercised because of the need for clay to dry in stages. Instead of the “flow in time” and trust in drawing media, Postma relies on her skills as an artist when she accepts the not knowing of what clay and the application of glazes and firing may bring. She exercizes care and embraces time for new findings. It might be in the details like shape, structure, tone or hue. This approach towards the clay medium has led to a fresh and new body of tactile works in which exploration, play and inquisitiveness have a major role. Postma started out with clay on a small scale. By rolling long strings of clay with her hands she found a way to handle the pliable material. This process became easier once she started to use a clay extruder. The strings, long and flexible, look like grey clay worms.
Little imagination is needed to perceive that the long threads of clay can be connected directly to a large variety of pencil lines that are the core of Marjo Postma’s oeuvre. The strings of clay allow themselves to be attached to each other in various ways. By slowly building the lines of clay up in a vertical shape, tower-like objects were the result. Altogether, this organic work process provided the artist with a way to incorporate het spontaneous approach in working with clay as well. Over time, the towers of clay that Postma produced grew bigger, which made the drying time longer, and the glazing processes more complex. A glazed tower that left the kiln was called perfect according to one of EKWC’s technical assistants. But the outcome thus far was not satisfying enough for Postma, because she prefers her glazes to appear alive (“I like it to look a bit dirty”). Most of the glazed surfaces have a mottled appearance, with deep dark tones in varying hues and combinations of grey, green and blue. These glazes give Postma’s sculptural ceramic works a lively appearance, with each tower having it’s own characteristics and having the looks of being recently pulled from an otherworldly sea bed. A moment is frozen in time.
By working in an intuitive and flowing way, Marjo Postma seems to capture movement. The strings of clay were at first pliable and adaptable, allowing Postma to create coiled lines. By softly draping these lines like a tangled rope, gravity pulled the clay a little downwards. However, the moment that clay hardens and is fired in a kiln, the work becomes fixed, creating a gesture of captured movement and spirit. The result is static and at the same time organic. It is this contrast that makes Marjo Postma’s work breathe freely from underneath the surface. Sculpted, reflections and memorials for once- Living creatures that are now frozen in time.

Riet van Gerven.

This text is an adaptation.
The original text, that is publshed on SEA Foundation’s website, was written by Lieselotte Egtberts who visited Marjo Postma in her studio at the EKWC in the winter of 2019. Marjo Postma (Born Ulestraten, Limburg 1958) is an artist based in Amsterdam.
Marjo Postma is the 1984 recipient of the Prix de Rome and she was a resident at the Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.
Postma’s work consists of drawings, paintings, collages, linocuts and embroideries. Her work has been shown mainly in the Netherlands and with regular intervals in Italy. Recently she delved into the possibilities of clay and glazes during a threemonth production residency at the European Ceramic Work Centre in Oisterwijk, the Netherlands. Marjo Postma lives and works in Amsterdam.
SEA Foundation is a residency-based venue for contemporary art, based in Tilburg, the Netherlands. In order to fulfill our mission; To create awareness for contemporary art and to built cultural resilience, SEA Foundation acts as a catalyst in the working lives of art professionals, artists, designers, curators and thinkers. In all our activities we are fuelled by visual arts. Transgressing the boundaries between disciplines and always putting the context and the idea before the medium. By working with an international scope and in different cultural contexts, SEA Foundation generates discussion, as well as being a part of networks that concentrate on eminent issues. We have brought exiting emerging and renowed artists from all over the world to Tilburg, to take part in a residency or an exchange programme and to present in a solo or group exhibition. SEA Foundation was founded by artist Jan Willem van Rijnberk. It was sourced from hospitality, inclusion, solidarity as well as altruism and founded on the needs of intertwining artistic work and daily life.
Tilburg 2020.

This is a link for the report of Lieselotte Egtbert's visit in my studio at Sundaymorning@EKWC, last februari 2020.
Lieselotte works at SEAFoundation in Tilburg.

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Notities bij het werk van Marjo Postma door Massimiliano Carocci.

Een duik in violet, een organische verandering die zich vermengt
met de stevige vloeibare ruimte.
Alles vliegt, ook onder het wateroppervlak,
mijn voet dompelt zich onder, samen met de algen en de tijdloze meeuwen.
Ver van het verstand, als de natuurvormen: wortels, nieren, longen;
functioneel en evenwichtig.
Een gelukkige ademzucht, compleet met roze en varens,
met loerende kwallen in het frisse en transparante.
Net als de lieflijk gezwollen buikjes.
Ha, wormen!
Levendige konijnenogen priemen tussen het struikgewas
en eenden verzamelen heel kalm beelden van de wazige tv-schermen.
Schijnsels en amoebes die zich vermenigvuldigen
om zich zelfstandig in mijn brein te nestelen.
Lijven in een lichaam zoals alleen het water zich kan openen
om de ronde vormen in zich op te nemen.
Ik word plat.
Dit is de kans om me onder te dompelen in de fascinatie van de golven.
De goedaardige monsters komen langzaam naar boven
uit mijn onderzoekende woorden,
stilzwijgende sporen in de tijd.

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"Pensare ed immaginare con la matita è come un grande spettacolo nella profondità del mare dove la fantasia non ha limiti. (M.P.)"

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Nota alle opera di Marjo Postma da Massimiliano Carocci.
(Adjunct Lecturer at University of the Arts, London)

Un tonfo in viola.
Una mutazione organic che si miscela nella consistenza dello spazio liquido.
Tutto vola.
Anche sotto la superficie dell’acqua,
vedo il mio piede amalgarsi alle alghe e ai gabbiani senza tempo.
Lontano della razionalita, dalla cerebralita,
come le forme della natura, radici, reni, polmoni.
Funzionali, equilibrate.
Un respiro felice e totale, complete, di rosa e di felce,
di medusa contemplative fresche e trasparenti.
Come la sua pancia gonfia di ameni misteri.
Vermini!!...
Occhietti vispi di conigli nelle foglie e papere
che accolgono placide le immagini di TV sfocate.
Lumili, amoebe si riproducono per diventare autonome
nel mio cervello che ribolle di nebbie cremisi, con quiete.
Corpo in un corpo come l’aqua che,
unica si apre per accogliere forme tonde.
Mi trasformo piatto.
Solo una delle possibilita che mi e concessa per entrare
ancora di piu nel fascino delle onde.
Sgorgano lenti, in progression i mostri benevoli
delle nuvole dalle mie parole indaco,
tracce sottintese di tempo.

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Everything floats.

The underwaterworld has always been a big, endless ‘pool’ or library of images and imagination for Marjo Postma.
Water is always moving, elements float in many directions and come to her as a river of inspiration. Not only living and moving elements come to her eyes, also her imagination deforms her view, just like looking under water, things twist and contort, always unexpected. The images that she ‘captures’ in her work are the report of her dreams, collection of pictures, adventures and encounters, of what her eyes see and her spirit fabricates.  Captured images not clearly realised but adapted, diluted, thickened, halved, cut, stretched, diminished, detoured, enlarged, flattened and joined together on paper or canvas. When she is drawing her mind becomes fluid and her thoughts wander and weave and what she sees  she adapts in her own style: recognisable forms will be seen as details in a new form, constructions can become living creatures.  While working she travels into a new world, with no directions, no beginning and no end. For her, drawing is like thinking with the pencil, travelling in the endless ocean where the imagination has no limits.

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Uit Leeuwarder Courant, 17 mei 2019.
Door Gitte Brugman.

Dromend onder het wadoppervlak.

Onder het wateroppervlak van de Waddenzee kun je van alles tegenkomen.
Marjo Postma in elk geval wel.
Ze verbeeldt ontmoetingen, tekent dromen en dan kan er zomaar een schildpad opduiken.
Dromend onder het wadoppervlak. Al sinds ze als meisje ademloos naar de avonturen van Jacques Cousteau zat te kijken, heeft Marjo Postma een fascinatie voor natuur en vooral voor de onderwaterwereld. Op haar reizen over de wereld verzamelde ze schelpen, sponzen en andere nautische bijzonderheden, die ze verwerkt in tekeningen, borduursels, linosneden, bronzen beelden en schilderijen. Vorig jaar bezocht ze Galerie Westerstorm in Westhoek, een nieuw platform voor hedendaagse kunst, dat het midden houdt tussen een atelier, expositieruimte en ontmoetingsplek. Gastvrouw en galeriehoudster Dorita Savert had daar als eerste gast haar zus Anneke Savert uitgenodigd, die haar omgeving als een onontdekte jungle beschouwde. Met Jungle Lab goes North bracht ze allerlei gejutte vondsten naar het atelier.
Saverts houdt van kunstenaars die "eerst beschouwen en een lange weg van onderzoek gaan", voor ze iets aan de wand hangen.
Van Postma ontdekte ze "dat die ook niet weet waar ze uitkomt", als ze begint met tekenen. Er was meteen een klik tussen kunstenares en galeriehoudster en Postma kreeg daarop een uitnodiging in Westhoek te komen werken. Postma: "Ik dacht meteen 'wauw, wat mooi' toen ik hier kwam. Het was logisch dat ik hier iets zou maken." In februari bracht ze een bezoek aan de streek, waar ze foto’s van maakte en indrukken opdeed. "Daarna ben ik begonnen met een grote tekening", vertelt ze. Die metershoge potloodtekening hangt nu centraal in de ruimte. Hoe langer je ernaar kijkt, hoe meer lagen je erin ontdekt. Door strakke lijnen die in de verte verdwijnen, lijkt er een horizon te bestaan.
Maar tegelijkertijd drijven en zweven er allerlei vormen in het grote vlak.
Postma: "Ik begin ergens en borduur voort op wat er ontstaat. Ik heb een logische opbouw in mijn hoofd, maar denk met het potlood. Af en toe ben ik zelf verbaasd: wat moet ik hiermee? Dingen vertellen zichzelf soms." Ze put uit een enorme bibliotheek in haar hoofd, zegt ze. Beelden die ze in de loop der jaren verzamelde op haar reizen over de hele wereld. "Natuur, natuurfilms en ook microscopische dingen... daar word ik blij van." Op haar reizen dook ze zelf ook, en dat is te zien in haar werk. Zwierig kelp, koralen en sponzen, amoebes en wier bewonen haar droomwereld. "Er is nu ook een schildpad te herkennen", zegt ze. "Misschien dat ik langzaam uit het water kom..." Behalve tekeningen is er ook werk in andere technieken te zien, dat ze eerder maakte. Borduursels uit de jaren negentig bijvoorbeeld. Heel precies en kleurrijk. "Dat kostte heel veel tijd, ik deed een vierkante centimeter per uur. Dat zit er nu niet meer in." Omdat ze alleen tekenen saai vindt voor zichzelf, maakt ze ter afwisseling linosnedes of schilderijtjes. Met ook hierin vergelijkbare vormen en onderwerpen. "Ik heb meestal overal wat liggen als ik begin. Foto’s en dergelijke. Daar haal ik vormen uit, die ik gebruik." Onderzoek ter plaatse helpt mee om nieuwe ideeën op te doen, zoals langs het wad. Eén foto printte ze, en ze voegde er enkele geschilderde figuren aan toe. In haar grote tekening is beslist het wad te herkennen, zegt ze. "De gebolde lijnen, die van licht naar donker lopen, die verbeelden het gevoel van eb en vloed en dat er dingen wegstromen en aanspoelen."
In een vitrine liggen vondsten die ze deed op andere stranden, kleine borduurwerkjes, schilderijtjes en bronzen objecten. Die laatste lijken ook op marine organismen. "Die heb ik in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso gemaakt met de verloren-was-methode. Je maakt een model in was, verpakt dat in klei – ezelstront in dit geval, haha – en dat bak je. De was smelt en dan houd je een mal over." In een vervolg op dit driedimensionale werk gaat Postma in november drie maanden werken in het Europees Keramisch Werkcentrum (Sundaymorning@EKWC). "Ik wil er iets heel groots gaan maken." Wat weet ze nog niet. "Maar ik zit nu nog een beetje op het wad. En er zit nog steeds een schildpad in mijn hoofd." Ze kwam er ooit een tegen tijdens een duik in Egypte. "Toen was ik wel onder de indruk! Ik duik nu niet meer, maar alles zit in mijn hoofd."