A Bonanza of Beauty and Art

In a radical departure from my usual darker themes, I’ve got something special for you. (You may find it more rewarding to view April’s blog on my blog site rather than as an email where the layout sometimes gets a little garbled.)

I have just returned from a three-day trip to Amsterdam with my nearly 89-year-old mother. After her stroke in 2016, talking and understanding became difficult, at times impossible. This trip was designed to bypass both and provide delightful experiences in some of the areas of life we both love – art and flowers. The main components would be the Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum and the Keukenhof Tulip Festival. Both exceeded our already high expectations as we were treated to a visual and sensory bonanza. We bathed in beauty, feasted on colour, immersed ourselves in the scents and sounds of sunlit spring…

Sold out within two days of its opening in February, this exhibition presents the largest collection of Vermeer paintings ever – 28 out of the 37 known works. Words feel inadequate to describe the quiet intimacy of these often tiny paintings that offer immaculately observed, snapshot-like glimpses into Dutch domestic interiors where mid-17th century women work, play instruments, read or write.

A strong relationship between internal and external worlds is created through letters and the subject’s gaze turned towards open windows or us, the viewers.

Crisp, almost silhouetted figures against potent negative spaces of ‘white’ wall backdrops; droplets of light falling on the brass studs of a chair or the beads of an earring; sumptuous folds of silk sleeves and curtains… the details are breath-taking.

In complete contrast was the loud exuberance of the 7 million bulbs planted by 50 gardeners for the two month Keukenhof Tulip Festival. The cold weather had meant that daffodils, hyacinths, narcissi, muscari, tulips and cherry blossoms were all blooming in a form of perfect synchrony. A heady mix for which no words are needed… just enjoy!

Back at our beautiful hotel – a rare indulgence – the themes of interiors and flowers continued in a creative meeting of design, texture, pattern and nature…

And then finally to the fields and the lovely words of my trooper of a mother that pretty much sum up the special days for both of us: “I don’t want to leave…”