At The Loft, we love to find new work by up and coming artists and designers and give them the recognition they deserve. This is how we met Bregje Sliepenbeek some years ago, when she was working on her first projects: ‘Brass Insects’ and the ‘Faceless Project’. We were captivated by the finesse with which she turned the most subtle materials into refined, glistening art-pieces. Her brass insects were part of our Loft pop-up shops and everyone that laid eyes on them seemed to be equally instantly smitten. Now, Bregje is back with new works to blow our mind, so we sat down at the studio for a long-awaited catch up.
Hi Bregje, it’s good to have you back! Tell us where you’ve been and what you’ve been working on.
Definitely good to be back! Things have changed since the last time we spoke, which was during the Artist in Residence I did at The Loft back in 2015. Back then I was doing a lot of the brass insects and also the’Faceless’ collages.
I really enjoyed doing that but, at one point it was time for something new. My wish was to work on a larger scale, so I did. My work now can be described as metal wall hangings. The pieces consist of hundreds of small metal chains hanging side by side in which I have created geometrical shapes. They are very abstract in comparison to my earlier work.
You’ve also been travelling, how was it to live in a German castle for a while?
I stayed for 2,5 months in a castle in the North of Germany last summer. Aldo van den Broek, a Dutch artist, lives there and welcomes other artists to stay or work from there. I enjoyed being there a lot. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the most beautiful trees and just five minutes from the beach.
I created a small studio for myself in the so-called ‘bell tower room’ and I would work there every morning for a couple of hours before hitting the beach. The idea for the metalworks I’m doing now really originated there. It was just perfect for that very moment. Away from the city, total freedom, surrounded by nature -like a dream. When I came back to Amsterdam I felt super energized and inspired.
How has your work evolved these last few years?
I’m really enjoying what I’m doing right now. My earlier work was more commercial and, after a while, I didn’t feel as much freedom in my creative process. Now, I’m curious to see where this will lead me to and that is why I want to just work as much as I can. My work now is much more abstract and simplified than my older work. It consists of only one material and one shape — metal chains and a circle. But I guess it still has the same sensitivity as my earlier pieces. What I also like about the ‘metalworks’ series is that they become part of the space they are hanging in. There is no frame around them, they simply blend in.
What has been the inspiration or drive to go in a different direction?
A series of events made me go into a different direction. My residence in Morocco also made a huge impact as I stayed in the Sahara for 1 month. I had a beautiful room overlooking the the sand dunes and a small oasis. Needless to say, I felt extremely happy there. I would go for long walks in the morning and before sunset and in between I would draw or weave. I learned how to weave from a girl from a village nearby. There was just nothing to do there, every day had the same routine and I loved it. After Morocco, I wasn’t ready for the city yet and I soon left for the castle in Germany. When I finally returned to Amsterdam I got the best studio I could wish for, all high ceilings and huge windows. I think al these events pushed me into the direction I’m going now.
Any art or design heroes?
Two years ago I went to an exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe in the Brooklyn museum in New York. It was like a biography, her lifestyle on display, a combination of photos of her taken by Alfred Stieglitz and other famous photographers, clothes she had worn or made herself and her art. I loved it. Georgia O’Keeffe had such an extremely good style and inspiring life. She lived in this beautiful house in the desert of New Mexico were she led a very basic life and, unconsciously, this inspired my trip to the Sahara. And I completely understand why she chose to live in the desert: It’s magic. So Georgia O’Keeffe is definitely my heroin and style goddess.
Your studio looks like a very serene place to work, did you design the interior with any aesthetics in mind?
The space is just beautiful, so you can’t really go wrong. I like my workspace to be a bit empty because I get distracted by mess or useless objects. I’m pretty practical in my interior choices and I don’t want to spend a lot of money. The most expensive piece of furniture is the desk I bought for €30 on Marktplaats. The rest was either found on the streets or was given to my by my dad, who has some sort of thrift-shop addiction. It’s the best studio I had so far, I just love being there.
Thank you for telling us about your travels and adventures, can’t wait to see your new works! Can you tell me what’s next?
On the 24th of May I will show my work at VAHQ in Amsterdam, a beautiful space in the same building as De School. I’m really looking forward but I’m also a bit nervous, it’s the first time showing my new work. It really helps that the space breathes the right atmosphere, Daan Kneppers and his girlfriend Roos put a lot of effort and love into it and it shows! So if you’re in Amsterdam the 24th of May come by and see the work. It’s going to be a fun evening, MOA vodka is going to serve drinks, there will be music and hopefully the weather will be nice so we can open the studio doors and enjoy the sun.
Make sure to check out and attend the event here.
Interview by Sara Martin Mazorra