Over the course of my relatively short life I’ve had a lot of experience with rejection and dropping out. I’ve just never fitted in with the ‘normal’ system of living. I tried over and over again but it always ended in misery, often damaging myself. After hitting the absolute sub-zero with a burnout a few years ago I got into therapy.
One of the main goals was to refind my own ideals and purpose in life, which I had forgotten and neglected because I tried to live up only to the expectations of others. The social pressure to ‘act normal‘ and live a standard ‘run-of -the-mill’-life is enormous. Especially in the Dutch society, which was largely based on the conservative Christian values of Calvinist protestantism.
It’s egalitarianism smothering and suppressing everything that’s different from the norm; a 9-17 job, own house, two cars, children, a dog, watching soccer while drinking too much beer and twice a year going on holiday to France, Italy, Spain or Turkey to lay on the beach and already practice for your casket.
Three years ago I started to map out my ideas, hopes and dreams about work and life in general. Because I ran out of paper for the list (it was simply too long) it soon morphed into a more visual project; a large collage (a double sided quadriptic of 2m x 70 cm) in which I collected depictions and quotes of people and things that inspire me. I tried to boil this down into a short description, which people around me started call ‘the manifest’. It’s the basic concept and philosophy of everything I do…
I am looking for a place, where I can explore and expand the full bandwidth of my craft and everything involved and associated with it..
A multifunctional workshop, in which everything can be self made, in various materials and with multiple techniques. A center for applied knowledge, open and accessible. A place for workshops and courses, given by myself and others. A creative sanctuary where people can see to what our species is naturally capable off. Dream up something yourself, ànd actually create it, simply with your own hands. Discover that all artifacts around us have been invented by a human brain and made by human hands. And that – with a little bit of dexterity – you can fabricate it yourself. Learning from others, from the past and present, in a practical, hands-on manner.
Central element herein is the ‘Basic Impulse of Creativity’; summarized in the preparation of food (brewing beer and baking bread), making of artifacts (instruments, tools, furniture) and art (music, written and visual arts), telling – and learning from – stories, expanding and sharing knowledge (education, writing).
This ‘basic impulse of creativity’ is deeply rooted in our human nature. It goes back to the early history of our species; times when we developed tools and gradually went from “hunters and gatherers” to a sedentary agaric culture.
Our current society often leaves little of no space for this deep human trait. Because of its broad and ‘out-of-the-box’-nature, it surpasses the standard pictures of management models, education systems and statistics. It’s often perceived as being ‘too intense’, broad or even threatening to the great mass. Because they don’t know how to handle this, it’s often condemned as being ‘useless’ and ‘unnecessary’. The people who chase this impulse are too often led upon with pity and discouraged or even sabotaged by their peers. Many have been crushed so hard, they became afraid for their this part of their character, or even tricked into believing they don’t have it at all.
“All people are born artists,
the trouble is to remain one as we grow up.”
– Pablo Picasso –
This whole story may sound a bit vague or even ‘esoteric’ to some, but it’s really the opposite of that; a completely human and rational trait. It’s the basis of our civilisation, culture, religions and political systems.
When the dialogue becomes silent, rigidity, ignorance and conservativity set in, slowing down or stopping development or even causing regression.
This is about much more than simply ‘existing’; it’s about life in the broadest sense of the word. By using the rich potential of natural abilities to the fullest, by cultivation, rather than disowning and/or suppressing it.
Involvement rather than indifference,
quality over quantity!
Jan van Cappelle
It’s a journey Sandra and I just started out on. We’ve always tried to do things our own way. In our life and the things we do. We don’t need a large house or a big car. We like our home to be more of an art studio and library than a style picture of ‘Home and Garden’. We like to try to do something different, more substantial with our lives, rather than simply gathering money. Through our crazy projects we try to add a little beauty to the world, hoping it will catch on. Trying a positive approach of being kind to others, solidarity combined with resourcefulness.
We hope that one day we may realize our ultimate dream: creating a center where there is a place for all arts and crafts. A large workshop/art studio/library where people can come MAKE things themselves, simply with their own hands. Where you can follow courses in lutherie, blacksmithing, painting, making ceramics, cooking, baking bread, brewing beers, working with textiles, paper printing, attend and give lectures, do research, read and write… To share information and experience(s).
A place where people who have dropped out of the system in one way or the other, can refind themselves, regain trust and purpose. Where we can find creative, out-of-the-box solutions for problems at hand. Where we can turn what was rejected into something useful. A place where human creativity can flourish, a sanctuary from the agitated and money-, manager– and consumer-driven world around us. A creative community, building up, rather than breaking down.
Some people may deem this a hopeless undertaking. “Don’t even try, because it will never work.” Well, maybe they’re right. But the other option – living like a depressed zombie – is worse. Maybe it will never happen, but we don’t know until we try. I guess we will see in the end. Up until then I rather live with an idea and hope like this, working to accomplish it. I put this idea out here, hoping it might also be an inspiration to others. And maybe some people will have ideas like it, or even would like to collaborate?