World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 190 - Bastiaan Meijer
When I walk into Bastiaan Meijer’s studio De Stoker, he is busy at the big table making an insect house. He has already made a lot of it. What started as a joke in 2007 has now become a serious business.
"I love to build it," says Bastiaan. "I missed a training as an architect." It is also a game for him. "I always make new things, and also other things than insect houses." It can be seen on the shelves on the wall. "I like to make beautiful things and it is also important for me that it is not unaffordable."
Throughout the Netherlands
He also gives courses to interested persons to make their own house(s). The houses are made of clay, which are then baked in the oven. The result is a brick-red building. At this moment he has different clay than usual. "The clay with sand through it is no longer available. I now have clay with chamotte powder. "
On his site is a map with 'insect villages', places in the Netherlands where one or more of his houses are. The whole of the Netherlands is littered with it. They are also located abroad, from Spain to Nigeria. "Most of the houses abroad came there via people with a relationship to the Netherlands."
Flies, beetles, spiders
How did it start? "For the Secret Gardens Route 2008 (https://bit.ly/2DDABre) we had agreed with a number of artists in Amsterdam to do something in the gardens. At the time I made fountains of ceramics, but that did not work in that big garden. At that time alternative bird houses were made, which looked more like castles than traditional bird houses. I thought about these kinds of houses, but for insects. Biologists told me that if there are small holes in a house, a house becomes attractive for insects. So I made a house with small holes. And indeed, in no time at all, there were bugs in it: flies, beetles, spiders.
It was a fantasy house. Bastiaan wanted his entire garden full of houses and made a series of cottages. None was identical to a previous one, there was also a church. It became a project with a guided tour for interested parties. "Can I buy them?" was asked. That was possible. And the demand has remained.
At one point Bastiaan started to copy existing architecture. It started with the Spoorhuisje (a station house) in Amstelveen, on the Karsenlaan. A Beemster farm, the Calvin school Hilversum and the ventilation building of the Maastunnel followed. At a certain point people wanted a model of their own house as an insect house. That was possible. It was made on the basis of photographs.
In 2014 it became known that two years later 100 years of Amsterdam School (Amsterdamse School) would be commemorated. Museum Het Schip asked whether Amsterdam School houses could be made for the garden of the museum. Meijer went to work. They came into the garden. On the wall I see a map of the Netherlands with everywhere scattered houses of the Amsterdam School. Next year there will be a new series. "In Bergen, Noord-Holland there is a lot of Amsterdam School houses, especially in Park Meerwijk. I'm going to make a number of them. "
There is even an insect house of an Amsterdam School building in Russia, in Kemerovo, Siberia. It was built around 1925 by the Dutch architect Han van Loghem, who helped with the urban development of Siberia in the 1930s. Meijer: "The building is now very dilapidated. They have become sheds. We are working on it to get it refurbished. "
Bastiaan Meijer often gets assignments, most recently the Korenbeurs in Groningen. "It has now been delivered. A classic building, at the front with pillars and a tympanum and at the back completely of glass. A challenging assignment!" Such a building is only made once, Meijer does not like copies.
Into the garden
Bastiaan Meijer studied for handicraft and textiles teacher at the Academie d'Witte Leli, nowadays the Breitner Academy. At the moment he is working there part-time again. And he also works with four other artists in Gallery / studios De Stoker. (www.destoker.nl)
"I like the fact that the insect house project has been received so well. And besides that it has become a project of many people." We go into the garden, there is a pond with all kinds of plants and flowers. There is a row of insect houses on bamboo sticks over one meter high. It was fuller, but sales are going fast. Some houses hang in a tree, and they can also be attached to the façade.
At the back is a larger house with mosque-like gates. "This is the Islamic birdhouse. Unfortunately the birds do not want to come in. "