Artist Statement -

I am not interested in telling a story. I will not try to give a complete overview.
I hope to make people more aware of the beautiful images around them; the interesting shapes of the weathered (coral) stones on the beach, how the reflection of a ship colors the water, a detail of a monument, or the pattern of a leaf.
I am fascinated by material. The process of erosion and damage. The contrast between skins. I make use of this in rhythmic compositions or forms.
In my photographs you can see I am a ceramist at heart.

Artist Exhibitions

2009 Art Studio Insight Aruba
2009 Galerie Taptoe, Brussels Belgium
2008 Landhuis Bloemhof Curaçao
2008 The French Embassy Gallery, Sto. Domingo Dominican Republic
2008 Kleurgamma Downtown, Amsterdam The Netherlands
2006 Blow-Up Gallery, Amsterdam The Netherlands
2005 Curaçaosch Museum Curaçao
2005 Kas di Alma Blou Curaçao
2004 Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam The Netherlands
2003 Art Studio Insight Aruba
2003 World Trade Center Curaçao
2000 Maritiem Museum Curaçao
1999 Kas di Alma Blou Curaçao
1998 Galerie Bloemhof Curaçao
1997 Scheltema H & V, Amsterdam The Netherlands
1993 Het Curaçaosch Museum Curaçao
1989 Taller Escuela Arte Fuego, Caracas Venezuela

GROUP (selected):
2010 Elit-Tile, Centro Leon, Santiago Dominican Republic
2009 Dependensia, Landhuis Knip Curaçao
2009 Arte Bèbè, Mon Art Gallery Curaçao
2007 2nd annual Dutch Caribbean Art Exhibition, Kas di Arte Bonaire
2007 275 years Snoa, Maritime Museum Curaçao
2007 All about women, Gallery Alma Blou Curaçao
2006 ASNA Clay Triennial, Karachi Pakistan
2006 First ACP Festival, Museo Arte Moderno, Sto. Domingo Dominican Republic
2006 The Caribbean in the Age of Modernity, Port of Spain Trinidad
2006 Arte Bèbè, The Rif Fort Curaçao
2004 Cocktail di Arte, Heerlickheijd van Ermelo The Netherlands
2004 Blow-Up Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2003 Laman 2003 Curaçao
2003 Vision +, V Caribbean and Centro American Biennial Dominican Republic
2003 Resusitá, Riffort Curaçao
2003 Keramika Sisak 1700 Croatia
2003 1 Bienal International del Mosaico Contemporaneo, B.A. Argentina
2002 Elit-Tile 2002, Museum of Modern Art, Sto. Domingo Dominican Republic
2001 Arte, di nos e ta, TENT-CBK Rotterdam The Netherlands
2000 Seventh Biennial of Havana, Centro Wifredo Lam, Cuba
2000 Sixth Taiwan Golden Ceramics Awards Exhibition,Taipei Taiwan
2000 Mon Petit Art Gallery, San Juan Puerto Rico
2000 Laman Chiki Curaçao
1999 Auto Retrato Nobo,Instituto di Cultura Aruba
1999 Centro Cariforo, Sto. Domingo Dominican Republic
1999 Arte ’99 Curaçao
1999 S.B.K. Kunstcentrum Haarlem The Netherlands
1995 Artoteek The Hague The Netherlands
1992 Un Abraso Ku Kolo, Heemstede The Netherlands
1991 Gala di Arte, W.T.C. Curaçao
1989 Bida I Kolo, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam The Netherlands


Artist Publications

Adi Martis & Jennifer Smit, in Arte, Dutch Caribbean Art, 2002, Ian Randle publishers, Jamaica / KIT publishers, The Netherlands, page 98-99:

‘Traces from times long past play an important role in the work of ceramist and photographer Ellen Spijkstra, who has lived in Curaçao since 1980. She attended the Minerva Academy of Fine Arts in Groningen (The Netherlands) and more or less stumbled into photography by accident after moving to the island.(...) As soon as she arrived in Curaçao, she became fascinated by the stones that were washed up on its beaches so weathered by the course of time. That process of erosion and damage, combined with the rhythmic play of structure and form, are the essential hallmarks of her visual language. In her photos it was the crumbling walls of Otrobanda, then still dilapidated, that she first captured on film. The ‘skin’ as the bearer of the ravages of time forms the link between the two disciplines she has embraced. (...) The impulse that Spijkstra has provided for the development of ceramics on the island is enormous. She began during the eighties by giving lessons. Since the early nineties she has been organizing workshops in her studio at Girouette. Ceramists of international renown (...) have been her guests. Some of her students (...) now work as independent visual artists.'

Marianne de Tolentino, in Photography in search for the absolute, Global Local, 2008, d'jonge Hond publishers, The Netherlands, page 49 (translated from Spanish):

'...Expanding her thematic horizons, she continues to capture the Caribbean identity, which is not limited to tropical landscapes, black or mulatto people or the vernacular houses gleaming in the sun. Also part of the Antilles are the ports, the wharves, the warehouses, the devices, the mercantile ships; all that anonymity, often discordant... that allows people to live and emigrate! Ellen Spijkstra, with the force, the tenderness and the emotion that she brings to the image, communicates to us a frightening, modern and forceful Caribbean...'

Jan Brokken, in opening speech at photo exhibition Waterwerken, Dutch Maritime Museum, November 2004 (translated from Dutch):

'...Like every other artist it is time that inspires Ellen. With things that cease to exist, with material that is battered, with decay. It is as if she is looking for the preceding. When she was photographing the houses and walls of Otrobanda, she looked from underneath one layer of plaster to another and from underneath the plaster layers to the core stones. Exactly the same she does with her ships. Beneath the damaged layers of paint there is rust and beneath that there is iron.
Is it possible that Ellen’s obstinate search is because she lost her roots? She left her home country while still young, living in the tropics for so many years. Dutch, Antillean, Holland, Curaçao, what is it exactly? From the present she travels back to the source, to the stone, to the deepest layer of steel. As if she asks herself what started it all.
Great artists often move between two worlds. It makes them distant, because they will always stay a foreigner and melancholies, because they cherish things long gone.
They drift about, like ships...’

Bernd Pfannkuche, in Keramik aus der karibik, Neue Keramik, March/April 2002, page 20-23 (translated from German):

‘.....The connection between Ellen’s ceramics and photography is the strong meditative character of the works, the peace and resignation, which comes to meet us, in spite of moving surfaces, from the inside out. Moreover there is a haze of melancholy, which carries the awareness of transitoriness of the material world.
Like De Chirico, the images are covered with the same fine spiritual mistiness that give the ceramic works their ritual character...’

Scott Meyer, in Ellen Spijkstra's quiet search, Ceramic Arts & Perception, International, no 76, 2009, page 28-30:

'...Spijkstra's approach to art and to life is largely intuitive. Her access to the 'right moment' is no doubt paved with the same silent vitality and intense observation that informs the vocabulary of her art. (She vigorously agrees with the axiom, "Chance favors the prepared mind".)...'

Nicole Henriquez, in 'Ellen Spijkstra Ceramics & Photography" ISBN 99904-0-110-1

'Ellen prefers to set out in the early morning or late afternoon when the low sun accentuates deep shadows and light contrasts with surprising effects, sometimes playful, at times melancholic.
Ellen's style is natural, it is not artificially engineered and she does not make use of filters, digital techniques or complicated lenses. Through her very own intuitive artistic lens, she captures moods, structures and shades of color with subtlety and exact detail.'

Jennifer Smit, in 'Refined Art'. ISBN 90-6832-539-6

'There is a direct connection between Spijkstra's photographs and her ceramics. Her fascination with surfaces is important to her work, and layered surfaces, gouged out and pitted by the ravages of time, are a common theme. She uses her camera to penetrate the mysterious structures of matter and exposes near-tangible details in compositions that are vibrant and boldly colourful.'

Wim van der Beek, in 'Zwolse Courant' page 4, 3-29-'95

As a photographer, Ellen Spijkstra can be characterized first and foremost as a chronicler of her times. She does not only want to portray appearance, but also strives to intensify atmosphere, with the ultimate aim of evoking feelings. This with a crystal clear feel for detail and atmosphere.


Artist Collections

Museo Arte Moderno, Sto. Domingo Dominican Republic
Centro Wifredo Lam, Havana Cuba
Resen Ceramics Museum, Resen Macedonia
Centrum Beeldende Kunsten Rotterdam The Netherlands
Stedelijk Museum Schiedam The Netherlands
Artoteek Den Haag The Netherlands
Het Curaçaosch Museum Curaçao
Maritiem Museum Curaçao
World Trade Center Curaçao
Central Bank Curaçao
Avila Beach Hotel Curaçao
Hyatt Hotel Curaçao


Artist Favorites