Gramineae

Tijn Meulendijks

 

 

 

GRAMINEAE: TIJN MEULENDIJKS
19 June - 16 August 2020

 

FOREWARD

 

Gramineae is both an art exhibition and online resource by Netherlands-born, Cairns-based artist Tijn Meulendijks. Presented via the Incinerator Gallery website, this project documents the collaborative research, conservation and growth of native grasses across the high, mid and low-lands of Queensland. Spanning over 8 weeks, this project will culminate in the creation of a large-scale grass sculpture harvested and constructed in the artist’s studio.

 

Combining environmentalism, eco-science and a contemporary arts practice, Meulendijks seeks to demonstrate our integral impact and relationship to an ecosystem through weekly online chapters and findings that will be published via the Gallery website.

 

Gramineae is a sensory-translated experience, through which the artist asks us to ‘slow down’ and see our connections with nature. Meulendijks works as both an artist and an educator, and uses his unique perspective to share knowledge and observations as a way to encounter the awe of nature.

 

This project will unfold over eight weekly chapters, documenting a process-based art practice, culminating in a large-scale grass sculpture harvested and constructed in the artist's studio. This online space will co-habit Tijn Meulendijks, as an artist and ecologist, alongside Incinerator Gallery, as an incubator for creative new-growth.

 

CHAPTERS:

 

I. Introduction
II. Caesitas
III. Root Drawings
IV. Fieldwork: Where we once walked/Where we would have walked.
V. Conversation with Dr. Bas Varschuuren
VI. Documentary
VII. Gramineae

INTRODUCTION

 

To begin, the word ‘gramineae’ comes from the botanical name for a family of flowering grasses. It is drawn from an older etymology and has since been renamed ‘poaceae.’ Meulendijks has been working in the field of environmental studies for 37 years now, and as he recalls of his formative years:

 

Back then my enthusiasm for botany and ecology was growing and I have spent many, many hours doing field work as a member of the NJN (Netherlands Youth Association for Nature) studying photographing and researching wild flowers and their ecology in forests, meadows and moorlands all over the Netherlands and other countries in Europe.

 

Throughout this project, Meulendijks acknowledges the classification of landscape – places at once foreign and familiar to himself, and others. In Gramineae, he seeks to underpin the integral relationship and impact humans have upon an immediate ecology, and how through close observation (and inherent reverence) of the landscape we may unearth our latent connection to the earth – a two-way relationship of nurturing and caring. The works presented in Gramineae, as like many other works of Meulendijks’ practice, reflect what he calls “nature experiences.”

 

Meulendijks believes that “nature experiences” are for everyone. Yet for himself, “besides the scientific experience more prominent in [his] past,” he sees a unique “aesthetic experience of nature,” that may become more relevant when he starts to look at plants and landscape as an artist, more so than a scientist:

 

This has conflicts, especially here in Australia. Where many plants that I have worked with are classified invasive noxious weeds. But those plants, it’s still nature… many of those species are either introduced on purpose or have travelled with us. They are so called “Culture followers”. Plant species that thrive on locations where eco systems have been disturbed by human intervention.

 

For a scientist, this ‘Nature’ is not the true nature. They are weeds, they do not belong there and should be removed. Of course, I agree with this, but as an artist to see plants thriving on a bulldozed wasteland, between cracks in tarmac, on roadsides etc., even if they are ‘weeds’, I find this [nature] moving and beautiful. Those plants are pioneers, they are always the first step into a succession towards a complex ecosystem.

 

Here, Meulendijks sees art and science as opponents, and through their dichotomies of the “nature experience” he sees the battle as such: the science of nature vs. the experience of nature.

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Tijn Meulendijks, still from Gramineae documentary 2020, filmed by Rosie Rosie Miller, photographed by Michael Marzik, Editor/Music by by Melania Jack, Sound Mix/Music by Patty Preece. Courtesy of the artists, produced by Incinerator Gallery.

II. CAESITAS

 

The collection of drawings Caesitas or Blueness are a record of a two hour walk in a meadow in Mungana National Park in North Queensland. These drawings consist of small marks and traces left behind by touching the little flowers of Commelina cyanea.

 

A walk through those grasslands with no other reason than to be there, to achieve a sense of belonging. In the sphere of the landscape experience of the Romanticism. These drawings are morning drawings per se, as the tiny flowers of Commelina cyanea are only flowering in the early morning while the dew of the previous night is still present over the field. When the sun dries up the dew, the flowers are no more.

 

 

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Tijn Meulendijks, Fieldwork / “Where we walked, where we might walk" 2020, collection of landscape samples FNQ. Dimensions variable. Photography: Michael Marzik.

ABOUT
Tijn Meulendijks

Tijn Meulendijks is best-known for his large-scale, immersive installations that reinterpret and recreate a natural environment within the gallery space. He approaches his work with the dual scientific/aesthete mindset of a botanist-cum-artist.it crosses the  boundaries of contemporary art , natural sciences and floral design.

 

Meulendijks obtained a Master’s Degree in Floral Design in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands before migrating to Far North Queensland in 2004. He has cultivated a lifelong interest in botany, collecting and documenting plant remnants, soil, seeds, species of vegetation and other organic materials to use in his installations, works on paper and floral designs.

 

A meticulous recreation of the elaborate, often haphazard compositions found in nature, his novel compositions  isolate, transplant and reposition organic elements to provoke a sensory experience in the viewer. Meulendijks simultaneously shows great restraint and a respect for his materials by methodically preserving them and allowing their natural forms to guide his creative process.

 

His work is not about the end result alone, but about the process of making, its thinking, meditating, caring. Ultimately, the affect of the plant world upon human emotion is inspirational, a fundamental recognition of the life force around us.

 

A continuous experience showing various stages of natural cycles, germinating, growth and decay.

 

Vegetative sculptures transform the gallery space by redefining its proportions or rerouting the  movement of people. By positioning organic elements as art objects Meulendijks calls into question the very nature of creativity.

www.studiomeulendijks.org

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Tijn Meulendijks, Fieldwork / “Where we walked, where we might walk" 2020, collection of landscape samples FNQ. Dimensions variable. Photography: Michael Marzik.

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Above: Commelina cyanea

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Tijn Meulendijks, Caesitas (Blueness) 2015, plant material on paper (Commelina cyanea) series of 33 drawings.
Photography of works: Michael Marzik

III. ROOT DRAWINGS

 

It is part of a series of studio-based works, where soil and plant growth are changing the nature of the paper, and by doing so, changing our perception. What happened here, is merely an action performed by the growing plants.

 

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Tijn Meulendijks, Root Drawings 2020, soil, plant actions, pencil on paper. Dimensions 55cm x 38cm. Photography of works: Michael Marzik

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The making of Root Drawings in the artist's studio.

"These landscape samples, for me they also relate to walking, direct to the action of walking, because walking or wandering...as in, walking without a destination...is the desire for the unity between human and nature...walking establishes an immediate contact."