‘A Talk with Liesbeth den Besten’, Chairwoman of The Françoise van den Bosch Foundation

June 18, 2012 | No Comments

Françoise van den Bosch was a very passionate Dutch jewellery maker and it is that passion which is the absolute base of  the foundation’s aim; To stimulate the  national and international contemporary jewellery makers in their passion.

In 1980 the foundation was established by friends and family of Françoise after she passed away at an age of 33, far too young and just at the beginning of a very successful career as a jewellery-artist.From the early nineties Liesbeth den Besten has been involved in the Françoise van den Bosch Foundation and since 2000 she’s the Foundations chairwoman-  this year she starts her final 4-years period for the Foundation. Fully prepared of course I looked forward to questioning her about what the foundation had already done and its plans for the nearby future. Overwhelmed by the Foundations long list of accomplishments and by the devotion of Liesbeth I hope that I can do justice as I summarise her quotations.

“During this period, of more than over 30 years, the Foundation has accomplished a lot and there’s still a lot more to do! The art market is always on the go and we try to react on that by helping and stimulating makers in the right way with all influences and limited’s we have. Interest and awareness in  art jewellery is visibly growing, we are in contact with many interesting jewellery-artists worldwide, we purchase new work for the Françoise van den Bosch collection which is held by the  ‘Stedelijk museum’, Amsterdam, we  initiate lectures, there’s a prize every two years in which we have to select and prepare ( The laureate gets a solo-exhibition with matching opening drink, we often help the winner by publishing a book or promoting an event that is created by the artist with the financial contribution of the Foundations award). We stimulate a lot of activities and our newest challenge is to make our ‘Artist in Residency’ a successful reoccurring yearly event. From the start of the foundation it is runned by volunteers. They all dedicate time, passion and energy to this work, besides having their own regular and busy jobs – all but one in the realm of art and jewellery. Without their imput it would not have been possible to do, and have done, all this work”.

The Artist in Residence project

“The project was launched last year in cooperation with jewellery artist Rian de Jong. The Foundation makes quite a beautiful offer; A stay for one artist for two months in De Jong’s studio-apartment in the centre of Amsterdam, which is generously offered to us by her and her partner Herman Marres, with the opportunity to give a lecture at Amsterdam Gerrit Rietveld Academy of Art , a solo presentation in a shopwindow showcase of the apartment complex at the Stuurmanskade during a month and naturally our intensive support during the whole period of residence, and the introduction to our netwerk of galleries, collectors, teachers, artists etc. Plus at the end of the residency an open studio time to show the results of the period of stay for invited guests.

Therefore the selection criterion of the artist is of a high standard. It’s not only about skills, but it’s also about personality, the portfolio and far more important ‘what the artist has to offer us and do we think we can stimulate this artist?’  We have received requests from all over the world! It’s an honour we’ve received so many highly interesting application forms. Thus we feel it as our task to make this period as interesting as possible for the artist and our public.

The registration period* for 2012 is closed. This year the Foundation has selected Tracy Steepy, biography and impression of her work, comes from Providence (USA), so we are busy organizing every thing that comes along with it”.

*Note to all my dear blog-readers about the registration of ‘Art at Residence’: I would like to apoligise immediately to all of you that I just totally forgot to write an article with a direct link to the registration form last December. This year I will be on time, in December…prepare yourself already..The Françoise van den-Bosch Award & the jewellery collection
“The most important happening of this foundation is of course The Award! An international prize for a ‘jewellery artist’ who is important to  jewellery design for that specific moment.  The award consists of an amount of money, next to the purchase of a piece of jewellery of the artist and a solo exhibition in an interesting museum.

Although there were two different awards in former days, one for an artist and one for an important promoting jewellery person or institute, we now have only one award every two years for a jewellery artist. In the year we don’t have the award we buy work of different young talented artists for the Françoise van den Bosch jewellery collection. This is in the correct way not a prize, nevertheless it’s an absolute stimulating impulse for the artist. Who’s object will be added to the Françoise van den Bosch collection (often on display at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam). In the new Stedelijk Museum parts of their jewellery collection, including the Françoise van de Bosch collection will be permanently on display in the jewellery pavilion.

The Françoise van den Bosch collection started with the jewellery of Françoise herself which she left behind at her studio when she passed away. She also exchanged her own jewellery with contemporary artists of those days, therefore the collection was interesting from the beginning onwards. Think of early pieces of Gijs Bakker, Ruudt Peters and in meantime expanded with pieces of  Paul Derez,  Pierre Degen, Marijke de Goey and many more.

Since the foundation started we purchased many jewels and we received beautiful donations of important artists and collectors. Nowadays the collection contains more over than 130 objects which are on loan at the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam. We are very happy with this cooperation because they have already an important jewellery collection themselves and these two collections assemble beautifully together.

As you will understand this made a huge change to the activities of the foundation started in 1980. The responsibility of this important international collection and acquisition of new pieces for the collection are our focus points. Many considerations have to be discussed in order to promote responsible purchases, because our finances are limited (but all our personal wishes and dreams reach into the infinite..)  and a matching piece for the collection is always our absolute goal.
Our latest acquisition: Corn Cob, by David Bielander!The biggest goal of the foundation for 2012
“That’s an easy one to head in! Looking for funding to improve things like stimulating activities, purchasing work of young talent, improving the interactive possibilities of the web-site & consolidating the foundation. But how to do it exactly, while the jewellery world changes constantly, is one we have to take in consideration…while all our standard activities go on”.

Liesbeth’s book recommendations:
‘Françoise van den Bosch (1944-1977)’, by Jerven Ober (ed), published by the Françoise van den Bosch Foundation in 1990. Dutch/English, hardcover, ISBN 90 72173023 (only available antiquarian). Reason: “this is an interesting book about Françoise, her work and her importance as a jewellery designer, written by the first chairman of the foundation.”

‘Wearable’, by Lisa Walker, Munich/Wellington 2011. English, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-473-18423-0 Reason: “she is the recipiënt of the Françoise van den Bosch Award 2010 and Lisa made the book for this reason. It was presented during her exhibition at the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen in 2011. Her work is so unique & Lisa is so funny and truly passionate.”
‘Contemporary Jewelry: A Critical Assessment 1945-1975′, by Ralph Turner, hardcover, only available antiquarian, ISBN: 0-289-70433-2. Reason: “This was my bible during my studytime, history of art. Amazing that he was able to make this book at that time – without internet!’

‘Contemporary Jewellers, Interviews with European artists’, by Roberta Bernabei, , Berg 2011, English, ISBN 978 1 84520 770 0. Reason: “An interesting source book that just came out, containing interviews with 25 jewellers among them 7 recipients of the Françoise van den Bosch Award! For me it proves that the Foundation is a reliable organisation in the realm of contemporary jewellery”.

As you all will remind Liesbeth is also the author of ‘On Jewellery’ and the guest curator of ‘Unleashed!’ Therefore right now also a direct link to the ‘Jewellery Unleashed! Symposium’ lately in the Museum of Modern Art Arnhem, and  in the Museum in Bellerive in Zurich from May 10 – September 23 2012 titled ‘Entfesselt – Schmuck ohne Grenzen’.

This article is published with the courtesy of Liesbeth den Besten, 2012.

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Margriet Sopers

Margriet Sopers, FGA

Having a diploma in jewellery, FGA and a propaedeutic of the Academy of Art followed-up by interesting years as a jewellery expert at Sotheby's & Gemeentelijke Krediet Bank, as well as being a member for years of the Society of Jewellery Historians, I am glad to share with you today's world of jewellery.

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