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Klaas van den Brink, Sculpture Garden

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About the Artist/Site

Market trader van den Brink traveled the country selling fabrics, and became known by his nickname Lappenklaas (Lappen is a colloquial Dutch term for fabric). As he traveled, he saw new sights and also had the opportunity to begin to collect empty wine bottles from restaurants, which he used as he began to build a colorful and distinctive art environment behind his home in a rural neighborhood of the otherwise industrial city of Zaanstad. Little by little, he transformed the meadowy land behind his home into a pleasant and shaded area by planting many trees and shrubs. Soon, he began adding sculptures as well.

From an early age van den Brink was endowed with creative talent, and although he never studied art, he developed his own visual vocabulary and taught himself how sculpt. Working directly with his chosen medium, without the benefit of preliminary drawings or plans, he applied a concrete mortar covering to iron frame infrastructures, modelling the works into a variety of figures and architectural structures. There are kings, witches, dancers, angels, and Egyptians, but they do not represent specific historical or mythological figures. Many of the sculptures have a rather airy appearance, some of the figures look as if they were captured in the middle of a movement or a dance. Some of the figures, as well as some of the larger works, have been additionally decorated with small pieces of colored glass and mirrors.

The garden is divided into sections, separated by various walls and shelters, some of which served as workplaces or storage rooms. Most of these structures were constructed by fixing bottles into concrete. Between the walls, the shelters, and some of the monumental figures, the wooded area behind the house, crossed by winding paths ornamented with mosaics, has a very intimate character. It is often a place where neighborhood people come to stroll and, before his death, where they enjoyed speaking with the artist.

Since van den Brink’s death in 2009, the sculpture garden has been left as it was, and is being cared for, to the extent possible, by the family. As organized interest in art environments is largely absent in the Netherlands, the site is virtually unknown except by locals, and has not been documented in local newspapers or magazines.

~Henk van Es 

SPACES Archive Holdings

234 digital photographs of the site from August, 2014, by Jo Farb Hernández. 

Map and site information

226 J.J. Allanstraat
Westzaan, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands
Latitude/Longitude: 52.453963 / 4.775523

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