Siemen Dijkstra (Den Helder, 1968)
At the end of the eighties, about 1989, I made my first landscapes in pen and ink. Pure landscapes made outside were totally new for me. Till then phantasies and stories where important for my work. I was someone who could understand William Wordsworth's "Recollection in Tranquility" very well and saw myself as a late Romantic follower. But I felt a strong connection with the landscapes of Groningen and Drenthe, where I used to cycle in nice and bad weather, day and night.
These journeys took me back to my childhood, growing up at the countryside of Drenthe. The first studies of the landscape in pen and ink were soon followed in the early nineties by the first woodcuts of landscapes. I was intrigues by Scandinavian landscape painters of the "fin de siecle". In 1990 and 1991 I visited therefor almost every art museum in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. In a time of impressionism in France, these Nordic painters where looking for the Soul of Nature, the Genius Loki. To paint the space of a landscape on a flat surface is one thing, to paint the Soul of Nature is another thing. It was a great inspiration to me because I was looking for a complete understanding of the landscapes I loved.
Nowadays I am still a landscape-artist or a "Landscapist", trying to archive it before this will change and disappear forever. Because it became clear to me that our landscape is threatened as never before. On the one side there is the declining biodiversity in the agricultural landscape, with fewer insects and fewer birds. On the other hand are islands of nature, where preservation often means cutting trees and changing the landscape with brute force.
For 25 years the making of woodcuts is my main activity and source of income. I still make drawings on the spot. In the same length of time I make studies of dead animals. When I find a victim on our yard, or in the fields, I take it to my studio to make a drawing of the dead bird or mammal. A lot of people feel sadness when they look at the drawings, but to me it is an ode tho beauty and to life. After finishing the drawing I bury the victim in our own yard. To give a dead mole a last resting place below the surface of the black earth, is perfectly reasonable I guess. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
The landscapes of Drenthe make me feel connected. This landscape is my home. Here I can take refuge for the hard world outside. Landscape is my Religion..