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Art in the city: work by ArtEZ alumni in Arnhem city center

  • Fine Art
  • Design

More art and color in the city center of Arnhem: that was key in Merlijn Schrijvers' call to the city council in 2020. On Friday 25 March 2022, we can admire some results of it, with the opening of two artworks by ArtEZ alumni by alderman Cathelijne Bouwkamp at 17:30 at Focus Filmtheater. The works by Emiel Ambroos and Melanie Maria are the first two in a series that should make the inner city more attractive. With wood sculptures that provide a home for insects and outdoor cinema benches, the up-and-coming artists are contributing to more art and greenery in the city – and gaining valuable experience at the same time.

Wilma met kat by Carel Willink, at the Utrechtseweg, gifted by Museum Arnhem: an example of art in the public sphere in Arnhem close to ArtEZ | Photo: Melisa Evci.
Wilma met kat by Carel Willink, at the Utrechtseweg, gifted by Museum Arnhem: an example of art in the public sphere in Arnhem close to ArtEZ | Photo: Melisa Evci.

Work by ArtEZ alumni

In 2020, then 16-year-old Merlijn Schrijvers made an appeal: there were already quite a few murals in Arnhem – but there should be more, and they could be more creative, he stated. Not only because of the pleasure that people derive from art, but also considering attracting visitors to the city (read more in the article by Omroep Gelderland). In response to Merlin's appeal, an open call was issued to budding artists from the BEAR (Base for Experiment Art and Research) and DAT (Design, Art and Technology) bachelor programmes at ArtEZ.

Out of the various proposals that were returned, Emiel Ambroos and Melanie Maria were selected. Their designs connect art with greenery. Emiel makes wood sculptures for three locations in the city: together the works form an ecosystem, while functioning as a biotope (insect hotel) at the same time. The sculptures adapt to the environment in which they are placed. The first one will be placed near the Weerdjesstraat in July 2022, the other two will follow later this year. Melanie came up with the concept 'The City is the Cinema'. On raised benches surrounded by greenery, people can sit and observe the city – or does the city observe them? When not in use, the benches are taken over by the greenery (the city). The cinema seats can be seen from March 25 2022 at three different places in the city, including Bovenbeekstraat, Wezenstraat and in the vicinity of Focus Filmtheater.

Commissions like these allow beginning artists to gain experience working in public spaces. Those opportunities are not always there, which makes this project extraordinary. Besides the fact that public spaces entail a different way of working, artists often find that there is more to it than expected: coordination with owners, cooperation with various parties, making structural calculations, finding suitable locations and the permit process. Therefore, this is a valuable experience for those participating.

Towards a future with more art in the city

In an article by the Arnhem municipality, Cathelijne Bouwkamp, who is Councillor for Culture, says: ''The public space belongs to all of us. Therefore it's important to make more room for green and art. In this way, many Arnhemmers can enjoy art and a green living environment. This will also increase the quality of the public space, and it fits with our green and creative city. The call of Merijn Schrijvers to make the inner city more attractive, fits perfectly in this picture. Many Arnhemmers have ideas on how we can beautify and green the public space. It is important that we, as a municipality, support those initiatives and actually carry them out together.''

This initiative is a pilot, but in the past year numerous other initiatives have arisen, hopefully creating a snowball effect: such as the murals of Museum Arnhem, the application of Arnhem designs on electricity boxes, and murals to the Spoorhoek, in which ArtEZ is also involved. In addition, the municipality of Arnhem has established a framework for visual arts in public space since December 2021, providing space to ideas of residents and/or companies about art in public space.

Come and see the work

From Focus Filmtheater, where the first artwork will be opened on Friday, March 25, 2022, at 17:30, you can follow a route along two other artworks, ending with the last one at Cuisson Arnhem in the Wezenstraat. Not able to join in the opening? The temporary artworks will be in the center of Arnhem for at least the next few years. And in view of the new policy on art in public spaces, it is expected that in the coming years more permanent artworks will be added to it.