Rechtboomssloot Amsterdam- Peti Buchel

Summer in the City

Mijn leven in Amsterdam

My life in Amsterdam 

Amsterdam lijn 10 halte Weesperplein

Amsterdam lijn 10 halte Weesperplein

Eind 1979 kwam ik na omzwervingen in Amsterdam.

Ik heb altijd een haat liefde verhouding met Amsterdam gehad. Aan de ene kant vind ik het te nat en zompig, aan de andere kant houd ik van de opgewonden republikeinse inborst.

Toen ik in Amsterdam kwam wonen zag de stad er uit als een onverzorgd gebit met gaten. Inmiddels is het omgebouwd tot een stralend witte Hollywood lach.

Mijn tijd in Amsterdam is te verdelen in drie duidelijke blokken. In de tachtiger jaren schilderde ik en tekende ik strips. De volgende twintig jaar deed ik werk in opdracht: voornamelijk voor Beeldleveranciers en Stichting September. Vanaf 2011 doe ik ook ‘Urban Sketching’. Urban Sketching is voor mij plompverloren ergens gaan zitten en tekenen wat ik zie.

After spending years abroad I settled in 1979 in Amsterdam.

OLVG uitgang parkeergarage

The underground parking exit of the hospital of Our Kind Lady

I just love to hate the city. I find it too damp to be comfortable and at the same time I love its radical republican character.

When I moved to Amsterdam the city looked like a bad set of dentures with holes in improbable places. Now it has the perfect whitened look of a Hollywood smile.

My working life in Amsterdam is divided in three distinct periods. In the uneasy eighties I made paintings, comics and graphic novels. The next twenty years I did cartoons for Beeldleveranciers and medical drawings for Stichting September. Since 2011 I’m specializing in Urban Sketching what means that I sit down anywhere and sketch what’s in front of me.


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Summer in de City

140 The last bits and pieces

Sunday September 25th, 2016 07:55 PM (Peti Buchel)
In two days I’ll be on the plane to Tangiers. In November I’ll be back in Amsterdam for a short while before I go back to Polranny. In the last week I’ve been putting the last touches to a lot of things. Suddenly there is a surge in work for Beeldleveranciers too. When it rains it pours. This summer was characterised by a number of things: websites, Nijmegen, Con Mönnich and getting together with my old friend Marie Oosterbaan again. Working on the websites took up almost all of my time. To go back to Nijmegen under the safe guidance of Lucy Ringelestein was cathartic in a happy way. Getting together with Con and choosing from his 1974 photographs of Polranny and environs for a future exhibition brought in perspective again what rich history the Polranny Pirates have in Ireland. An important part of that history is Marie Oosterbaan. Her initiative to bring everybody that was dear to her together for her 70th birthday was a memorable end to the summer. I’ve made a lot of sketches but they have a different content from last year. Last year I went out to look for places to sketch. This year I took advantage when it appeared. I also did more sketches of people sometimes more successful than other. (140 Bosboom Toussaintstraat 14-09-16)

139 Egmond aan Zee from the bus station

Saturday September 24th, 2016 01:22 PM (Peti Buchel)
Although the history of Egmond aan Zee goes back to 977 and the people speak a special West Frisian dialect the ‘Derp’ there is little in Wikipedia about the charming village. It all seem have started with an abbey and a warden named Egmont. Count Lamoraal Egmont was the most famous of the lot and it was his doing that the name Egmont is forever connected with the start of the 80 year war of independence. He became the first casualty when he was beheaded for treason in 1568. The incident became an inspiration for Beethoven who wrote an overture dedicated to him. I sketched the old church and part of the former station building that is now an American style diner. In 1905 the tram-line between Alkmaar and Egmond aan Zee was opened and this was the terminal. The tram line lasted almost 30 years and was closed in 1934. Nowadays the three villages Egmond, Egmond aand Zee, Egmond Binnen en Egmond De Hoef are one municipality with Bergen. It has taken on the emblem of the counts of Egmont as flag. The weekend that Marie Oosterbaan had organized for het 70th birthday was at a ‘Stayokay’ in the country not far from either of the villages. Stayokay is the new name and concept of the former Youth Hostel Association. I had never heard of it before. The only thing left over from the old concept are the bunk beds. I thought it a fitting location for the long way Marie (and me too) had come since she first struck out on her own. (139 Egmond aan Zee Bus Station 17-09-16)

138 State built churches

Thursday September 22nd, 2016 07:27 AM (Peti Buchel)
Usually fishing villages in Holland had a homogenous population. That had everything to do with the family run seafaring trade. Volendam and Katwijk were famously Catholic and Urk was Protestant. Egmond aan Zee seems to break the rule. First thing you’ll notice when you enter the village are two big churches: the older one Protestant and the other one Catholic. Catholic churches are always the newer churches. After the Reformation and the 80 years war, it took a long time for the Catholic faith to become legal again in Holland. From 1824 the Catholics could have churches again. But they weren’t getting back the old churches that once swore liege to the Pope. When young I was told that the State built churches for the Catholics to prevent them becoming too voluptuous and luxurious. I was taught that engineers of the Department of Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) who usually designed sluices, bridges and pumping stations made a blueprint for all future Catholic churches. That’s why all of them that were built between 1824 and 1875 look neo gothic and are called ‘Waterstaatskerken’. According to Wikipedia that is not true. The State built the churches as compensation for the churches the Catholics couldn’t go back to and the design was not restricted to the departmental blueprint. Be what it may to me the Catholic church in Egmond looked exactly like any other I know from that period. It stands tall amid its neighbours. The imposing house next to it must have been the priest’s house. This might be the only chance I’ll ever have to sketch one and there was an attractive seating arrangement available at the right spot. (138 Egmond aan Zee RK kerk 17-09-16)

137 Egmond aan Zee

Wednesday September 21st, 2016 07:29 AM (Peti Buchel)
Marie Oosterbaan my old classmate from the ABK (now Artez) celebrated her 70th birthday near Egmond aan Zee a fishing village on the North Sea coast. I was there twice before. Once when I was 13 I camped with a few friends on a campground that was situated on the beach itself (very rare in The Netherlands). The second time I was there with a lover for a weekend in winter. At night large swatches of beach and coastal dunes were swept away by the sea during a storm. This time a number of partygoers were trapped in a dangerous ground swell. Fortunately all went well. I didn’t go into the sea. Instead I concentrated on the village itself. The weather was still unseasonably hot and there were many visitors from Germany. The Dutch coast has always been popular with the Germans. Some of them vacation there all their lives and even speak Dutch. Egmond was also popular in the beginning of the 20th century with American Impressionist painters. I settled down at the entrance to the beach to sketch the lighthouse. In front of me was a plaything for children: a giant ‘Nijntje’ in a model of a ‘Kotter’ or 'Pinck' a flat bottomed fishing vessel. As a child I had the exact same model of a ‘Kotter’ in miniature. I used to let it float in rain puddles. ‘Nijntje’ the iconic Dutch rabbit from children’s books was introduced after I grew up. I never ‘bonded’ with it but the character is incredibly popular. Also in Japan, Hank Kune told me. (137 Nijntje in een Kotter 17-09-16)

136 Books and Communists

Friday September 16th, 2016 08:25 AM (Peti Buchel)
Annemarie Behrens runs with two other retired booksellers an antiquarian non-physical bookshop called ‘Het Boek is Beter’ or ‘Book is Better’. If there is a title that is not in print anymore she’ll find it. Book is Better also has a newsletter with new titles they have found and there is the occasional ‘Pop-Up’ shop. This time Annemarie and colleagues had been to the Leipziger Buchmesse and came back with some interesting titles, mainly from publishers from the former DDR. Interestingly the two big German publishing houses Insel and Reclam continued after the war each independently from each other in the DDR and the BDR. That means that two different books can have the same number. From the list of titles Book is Better mailed I choose a couple. One of them was the graphic story made from woodcuts by Belgian artist Frans Masereel and published by Insel DDR in 1959. Annemarie invited me to pick the books up at her place: Holendrechtstraat 24. The address is situated in a social housing estate build in the twenties in the Amsterdamse School Style. Number 24 is in a small U shaped appendix to the main street. It is the neighbourhood where a lot of working class Jews moved to from slums of the old Jewish Quarter around the Waterlooplein. My host told me that before the war the block was home to an extended family of die-hard communists. A great number of the original inhabitants didn’t survive the war. House number 24 is in the bend of the U. The street front may be narrow but the garden behind is wide and deep. In the heat of the Indian Summer the trees threw a welcome shade. I sketched the back of the houses with the strange internal triangular balconies. They were never meant as balconies. They were the toilets. Every two flats shared one toilet. When I sat sketching pet rabbit Rosa came to greet me. Rosa has built her own quarters in the garden. I wondered if she was called after Rosa Luxemburg but it was the colour of her fur. (136 Holendrechtstreet 24 15-09-16)

135 Van het Hoffplantsoen, Nijmegen

Thursday September 15th, 2016 08:58 AM (Peti Buchel)
After our walk through the old centre of Nijmegen we took the nr 1 bus back to the Lucy and Hans’ home. Walking from the bus stop to the cottage in the Van het Hoffplantsoen I was suddenly struck by the well-grown horse chestnut tree that proudly stood at the edge of the street. Most likely it was there already before this housing estate was built in the late sixties. Lucy told me that neighbours had started action to have this beautiful specimen cut down. I was shocked! I asked why. The presence of this tree didn’t seem to be a possible obstruction to anything. According to Hans and Lucy the people that lived near the tree complained it blocked the view of the car park… Sometimes people’s self-centred concerns without consideration for history, beauty or the environment around them get to me. I decided I wanted to portray this tree before it was cut down. Disrespectfully the base of the tree was already in use as a collection point for garbage bags as if it was of no other value. It was too hot to sit out in the car park that was a bare desert of cobbles and cars. I sketched from the kitchen. (135 Horse Chestnut 07-09-16)

134 Van Broeckhuysenstraat

Monday September 12th, 2016 09:16 AM (Peti Buchel)
The street called Van Broeckhuysenstraat was very important in my youth. Prakke’s Bookshop was located there. In Nijmegen in the fifties every group in society had it’s own bookshop. The Catholics had one, the Protestants had Kloosterman and everybody else went to Prakke. Prakke had been my family’s bookshop forever. The bookshop was run by the brothers Prakke. To me they didn’t look like brothers at all. One looked like a caricature of a Protestant minister of the faith: thin, tall, blond, standing ramrod straight, chin held high. The other however looked like a caricature of a Jewish bookseller: small, with dark hair, bespectacled, bend forward and with an eager friendly demeanour. I loved them whole-heartedly. From the time I could read I was taken to their shop on Wednesday afternoons. My mother left me there to go shopping. I felt like I was in paradise. It was the time that the first mass-produced cheap paperback books of quality hit the market in the Netherlands. What Penguin did for the UK, Prisma did for us. Every month I had 4,50guilders pocket money to spend. One ‘Prisma Pocket’ was 1,25guilders. That meant that I could get one book almost every week. If I was lucky that left me with 75 cents for ‘pudding buns’ à 7cents and matinee films à 10 cents. It took me usually several hours at the bookshop to make a choice. At the time there was also a lot of new Dutch and international literature that was published straight to paperback by ‘De Bezige Bij’ and ‘Arbeiderspers’. And there were the children books. Those books however were 4,50 or even 4,95 guilders. I had to add them to a ‘list’ and hope I would get them as a gift. For the time being I read them in the bookstore. The Brothers Prakke had a rattan armchair that stood near the open shop window. I was allowed to sit there and take my time. I think they saw me as good advertisement for the shop when people passed and looked into the shop window they saw a child engrossed in a book. (134 Van Broeckhuysenstraat 07-09-16)

133 My old school

Sunday September 11th, 2016 11:36 AM (Peti Buchel)
My old school the municipal grammar school or Stedelijk Gymnasium is in the most beautiful street in the centre of Nijmegen. The Van Schevichavenstraat is a short wide street. On the left side it has only two buildings: the main post office and the district court. On the right side is an apartment block dating from the late twenties early thirties, a small but quaint porters lodge and the school sitting comfortably in a schoolyard and garden. The street and sidewalks are wide. Big tall plane trees that slightly bow to each other give shade and filter a soft green light through the leaves. Although the word ‘Gymnasium’ still decorates the gable the sign on the gatepost of the schoolyard informed us that the building provides night shelter to the homeless and protected living to the mad. A group of the clients stood together in front of the gate and some others were busy with the shrubs in the yard. I felt right at home. Unfortunately there was neither sidewalk café, nor bench. I walked into the building looking for a chair or something else to sit on while sketching. That was not allowed, but after some bureaucratic hassling Lucy and I each got a chair. I started sketching to great approval of the homeless and the mad who one by one came for a little chat. They were tickled pink when I told them that I had gone to school there. Before we left a kind young man made photocopies of the sketch for everybody. The Gymnasium itself has moved to a brand new building. The school has a Wikipedia entry in which it claims that it is not only renown for educational excellence but has also dedicated itself to the brainiest of students. Statements like that always irritate me especially when it is accompanied by some stupid inaccuracies. Nevertheless the school when I went there had a profound influence on me and I’m proud my teenage infatuations, uncertainties and angst found shelter there. (133 Stedelijk Gymnasium 07-09-16)

132 Back in Nijmegen

Friday September 9th, 2016 07:52 AM (Peti Buchel)
It was a beautiful end of summer day, when the sky is clear, the shadows are already lengthening giving everything sharp accents and a slight coolness in the air eases the heat of the sunrays. Lucy Ringelestein my friend from primary school was waiting again for me at the train station. Again we took it easy. At last we ended up at the gothic Church of Saint Stephen, the Stevenskerk. To get to the church one enters the ‘close’ surrounding the church from the Great Market Square through a double gothic archway. From the bustle of the market square one enters the peaceful serenity of the close. The church may take up most of the space between the medieval houses but it hasn’t always been like that. Over hundreds of years the church grew and grew till only a narrow alley was left around it. The church was build from 1254 onward. Standing on an elevation overlooking the river Waal on the spot of the first Roman settlement. After 1310 there were four more periods in which the church was renewed and extended. In the second half of the seventeenth century it got the shape and footprint it has now. In the eighteenth century it got a whole new roof and the great church organ. In the nineteenth century when the Netherlands went through an economic malaise the church fell into disrepair. On 22 February 1944 the British bombed the city ‘mistakenly’. The church tower got a hit and tumbled onto the roof of the church. And although the tower was a dead loss the church suffered only relatively minor damage. After the war the church and tower were restored to its former glory. At last in 1969 the work was done. When I sat sketching one of the many tall windows and Lucy remembered eucumenical celebrations she attended in the church somebody was tuning the 3600 pipes, 54 registers, 3 key boards, one pedal board, of the 18th century's Ludwig König organ. Wow! (132 St Stevenskerk 07-09-16)

131 Con Mönnich

Tuesday September 6th, 2016 07:35 AM (Peti Buchel)
In February 1974 came the young Dutch photographer Con Mönnich for a visit to Polranny. It resulted in about 300 black and white photographs of the area around Polranny. I knew Con because in 1969 as a teenager he crashed a party in the Paulstraat in Arnhem where I lived with friends. At the party he hooked up with another teenager Akkie the sister of my classmate Anne Semler. They ‘did’ it that night at the party. Akkie got pregnant, they got married and are still together. In Polranny Con and Hank Kune were going to do something with the photographs and the text Hank wrote to accompany them. They had probably an article or a book in mind. But nothing came of it. The text that Hank had written and the negatives of Con disappeared in some drawer. Last February I suddenly got an email from Con that he and his wife Akkie came for a visit to Ireland and could they visit Polranny again? In May they arrived. I hadn’t seen them in 42 years. Con had brought a stick with the scans he had made of the negatives and some prints. As soon as he was back in Polranny he was inspired again. I took them to the Ballycroy National Park Visitors Centre where the couple who do the restaurant also run a gallery. They were impressed by the quality of the photographs but also with the historical value. Con and Akkie went back to Holland invigorated by the response they got to the old pictures. Con is retired as a commercial photographer, Akkie is a retired youth worker, their two sons are grown up and have families of their own. They live a comfortable life in Soest, do a bit of gardening and do a lot of caravanning to France. The short visit to Polranny shook up their life. Con has gone back to his old love: black and white photography. He has rekindled some old connections he had in the field and even opened a dark room. (131 Con Mönnich 03-08-16)

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