My time with the BIB Art Community

A retrospective

December 2011 – December 2016

Shortly after the graduation from the art academy and art teacher academy, it became obvious to me, that I missed the vibrant and inspirational company of fellow artists. I looked for artist communities in the bigger cities such as Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Leiden, but realised, that the distance would be an issue. 

A friend and fellow artist, Ada van Werkhoven, was member of the Bollenstreek in Beeld, the BIB in short. 

The BIB is a local, very active artist community in a lovely part of the The Netherlands, with bulb fields, dahlia fields, dunes, forest and beach. The latter has to be mentioned, as that has had a major impact on the art of the members.

The festive opening of our new accommodation,
the BIB Kunstschuur (art shed), which intentionally
coincided with the yearly flower parade
Video source from the facebook page of the BIB kunst

I joined the BIB in december 2011 just before it moved into a huge bulb shed, an iconic and historic building at the heart of the bulb region. I participated in the renovation of the place which we transformed into a very lovely exhibition room and a cosy get together with it’s own kitchen and bar. In the course of 5 years we managed to become a “household” name for artistic events and expresion in the region.

I have made good friends from the 5 years with the BIB and have many warm memories. Being part of the BIB, though it did not have much impact artistically, it proved all important in terms of connecting with likeminded people and building a network. We had themed exhibitions for which we made new work (mostly) and some retrospectives in between. We invited artists from other art forms such as music, dance, poetry and fashion for the openings of our exhibitions and it was quite simply a darned good time.

I had the opportunity to set up and run an art appreciation evening once a month, in which the BIB members could bring their work, finished or in progress, for discussion. To my great pleasure, it was very well received and quite busy. I have developed my own vision of how to conduct art appreciation and criticism with a group based upon the studies of Terry Barrett (his own page and on wikipedia). I have attended some classes by him and studied his work, and I have had the pleasure of conducting sessions with children and adults alike. Discussing artistic work in a respectful, constructive manner in which everyone can bring in their view is one of my all time favourite activities.

As a natural “spin-off” of the art appreciation, I became active in the admission committee, where we evaluated the applicants to the BIB community. The BIB art community became a household name in the local area, thanks to the very active members, working hard on various BIB activities involving other creative minds in the area.

Alas, being a member of the BIB thus also took its toll. I put much effort in the BIB, effort I could not put into making own work. The rent of the place was draining our modest means and we had to work hard on promoting our community, the art and to exploit the place by offering courses and workshops. I ended up being responsible for the website, overhauling it completely and migrating it from a hardcoded html page tree to a dynamic community site and blog. Being the only one with some kind of skills to do so, I was overwhelmed by the task without wanting to admit to it and though I eventually got assistance from 2-3 members of the community, it became such a chore, I just wanted out. Teaching the ins and outs of the website was in itself a big task and in the end, I figured I was not making my own work any longer, because I was too busy facilitating the online presence of the BIB and the art of the members. Personally, I was unable to stay a member and at the same time extricate myself from the website, so I decided to leave the BIB, after 5 years.

The BIB is still a thriving community. They eventually decided to become “homeless” as the rent was a real drain on the meagre resources and the members wanted to spend their energy otherwise. They now organise exhibitions solo or in smaller groups in various public spaces and have seen their membership explode. This is the official website of the BIB and this is their Facebook page.

BIB stands for “Bollenstreek in Beeld” which translates more or less into “the bulb region in picture,” “picturing the bulb region” or “artistic representation of the bulb region”. “Beeld” can be “image, picture, statue, icon, figure,” etc, -it does not have a one to one translation.


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