Exposition Hand Schrift Pauline Nijenhuis

Carnival, Pauline Nijenhuis, 2014, photo Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

What appeals most to you, the work of the artists or the machine? Decide for yourself at the solo exposition Hand Schrift (Hand Writing) of Pauline Nijenhuis at CBK Emmen (Centre for Fine Arts). At October 12 it was enthusiastically opened by Harry Tupan, director of the Drents Museum.

the opening of the exhibition, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

Thirteen years of work of mixed media artist Pauline can be seen: “textile paintings”, photo’s and installations. As far as I’m concerned an extra dimension is the location of the exhibit: a beautifully renovated and re-used milk factory.

Recently I had the chance to ask Pauline some questions about her art. First of all I asked her what she wants to be the thread through her work.

Short interview with Pauline Nijenhuis

She told me her work is always about the current time she lives in. In her early days she worked on environmental issues, like the ozone hole and extinction. Nowadays she works on the theme technological revolution, like digitization and robotization. As a result in much of her work there’s suggestion, or she plays with, time and speed (MM).

As an embroidery- and textile fan, I had to ask her the second question. Why did she decide to incorporate embroidery as a technique in her art art work, being a painter and photographer? In the Netherlands embroidery isn’t a very popular technique in the art world, although since some years it’s getting more accepted. Pauline: “I moved from Rotterdam, a big city with much hard materials like concrete, to Zutphen, a regional city in a green area. Once there, I took part in an exhibition about the river the IJssel. The river landscape looked very soft to me, with it’s grasses, willows and bushes. For some reason I decided to use needle and thread to design the river landscape. The softness of the yarn, the thin threads… the refinement of embroidery.” Interesting… To me this shows what an impact your surroundings can have on your creative process. Maybe that’s the reason I get more creative work done on holidays in remote area’s?

Early works

When you enter the exposition in the first room, you see some early works of Pauline. In these works you can clearly see the combination of painting (on textile) and embroidering. The work here below is the very first work in which Pauline used embroidery in her art. It’s an image of a river-landscape. Funny fact is that she used river water of the IJssel, to dilute the paint.

Series Waterlevel 1, 2009, Pauline Nijenhuis, acrylic, Indian ink, thread, photo by Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

Here below you see an early work, in which the (embroidered) technique of suggestion of speed seems to develop, by stitching in all directions, although that ins’t the aim here.

Stoer Landschap (rugged landscape), Pauline Nijenhuis, photo Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

Documentary project HAND@WORK

On the other side of the room, a short documentary about the making of the work project HAND@WORK asks your attention. This project is made in collaboration with artists Tessa van Helden, Hinke Schreuders, myself and Marjolein Burbank (order of photos from left above to right side under). Frank de Wind of the Textiel Lab Tilburg also participated. Earlier I wrote about this project, see http://artyembroidery.com/my-diary-project-handwork/ andhttp://artyembroidery.com/battle-against-embroidery-machine/. Here you see the participating artists.

photo college by pauline Nijenhuis, courtesy of alle artists and Pauline Nijenhuis

And here you see stills of Pauline and me, in the documentary.

Pauline Nijenhuis in documentary HAND@WORK, photo Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis
myself being interviewed in the docu, photo Mique Menheere

Here’s a link to the docu: https://youtu.be/hSVa8gmS7BQ.

Embroidered paintings project HAND@WORK

In this project all the six of us embroidered the same work, by hand or machine. The public is asked to determine if they can see a hand writing. Or is it just all the same? Make up your own mind by watching the photos below …

the 5 hand embroidered works by 5 artists
5 (of 6) works made by embroidery computer Textiel Lab

Here you see two examples of hand embroidered works:

hand embroidered by Marjolein Burbank, photo Mique Menheere/Pauline Nijenhuis
hand embroidered by Mique Menheere, photo Mique Menheere/Pauline Nijenhuis

And here below you see the computer / machine embroidered work.

computer embroidered (Frank de Wind,Textiel Lab), photo Mique Menheere /Pauline Nijenhuis

“Same works made multiple times by the computer, differ each time”, programmer Frank de Wind told us. That was quite a surprise to me… Does it mean that in a way there is no difference between human and machine? Partly I think. A big difference however is time. The computer was able to embroider 6 copies in the time of 1 hand embroidered work (which took us averagely 14 hours to make).

Here you can see the machine working: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3uutgpllv1/?igshid=1c35obybg2mgb

Installation project HAND@WORK

When you step into the big hall, the 12 meter long installation HAND@WORK immediately catches your eye. It resembles a hand and shows photo’s and fragments of the logbooks of the participating artists. Here you see my logbook.

photo Mique Menheere

In the fragments you can read about the embroiderers’ thoughts and feelings during the making process. To me it was quite a surprise to get aware of how much is happening “inside the embroiderers” while stitching. That’s something a machine couldn’t experience. Or would specialists in artificial intelligence think different about this?

Installation project HAND@WORK, photo Mique Menheere
installation HAND@WORK, photo by Mique Menheere

Project Time Consuming Landcape

In the next hall there’s another “embroidery project”, this one is about the factor time. It investigates what happens when you have less time to produce a piece of work. What happens to the results? What happens to your handwriting? At the exhibit you can see 4 of the same works, each made in less time. You can watch four short videos about what happens then…

To me this work appeals to a quite familiar theme. For the last ten years at much organisations and companies, employees had to do the same work in less time, because of cut-downs due to the crisis. As a (career) coach, I noticed for lots of employees stress increased and health got under pressure. In Pauline’s videos I noticed she struggled with the same issues. Art or no art, we’re all the same. I have written a book review about this project: http://artyembroidery.com/book-project-fast-work-time-consuming-landscape/

Fast Work-Time Consuming Landscape, 2017, Pauline Nijenhuis, photo Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

More embroidered works

In the next room there are much more embroidered works to be seen. First of all the series Spaceships, a series of 4 works made in black and white about observing in our fast time.

Serie Spaceships, Spaceships 2, 2018, Pauline Nijenhuis, photo by Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

Another work about time and speed is Suncity, a work in the serie Fast Landscape, which is about hasty observations of landscape in today’s Western society.

Serie Fast landscape, Suncity, 2016, photo by Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis
Serie Fast landscape, Spaceship is coming, photo by Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

Spaceship is coming, made in 2015, is about increasing speed in today’s western society and it’s influence on our lives. Pauline asks herself if we can keep on following this huge stream of fast information.


Most of the embroidered paintings of Pauline are based on a photograph. She makes those while driving in a car, experiencing with different speeds. At the exhibition there is new photographic work to see. Here below you see one of those. When I saw it I immediately I got in the mood for embroidering it, someway, some how… but… no time!

Speed building 4, 2019, Pauline Nijenhuis, photo by Mique Menheere, courtesy Pauline Nijenhuis

Other embroidery artists

At the exposition you can also see some works from the 4 participating artists at project HAND@WORK.

Marjolein Burbank, shows -with a wink- her reaction on nuisance due to AirBnb tourism in our cities. It’s embroidered by hand on a machine.

AIRBNB, Marjolein Burbank, cotton and yarn, suitcase, photo Mique Menheere, courtesy by Marjolein Burbank

Tessa van Helden shows her graduation work from art school. It’s inspired by an old photograph of the Regional Tilburg Archives, about a girl being educated at the textile school Tilburg. I’m so impressed with her delicate choice of colors and tight way of placing the stitches…

Theresia, Tessa van Helden, 2017, DMC yarn on cotton, hoop, hand embroidered, photo by Mique Menheere, courtesy the artist

Hinke Schreuders exhibits this work. Her work often is about vulnerability and confusion of identity. I’m impressed by the way she suggests the presence of water in this work.

Zonder titel (without title) , Hinke Schreuders, 2014, felt on linen, hand embroidered, photo Mique Menheere, courtesy by Hinke Schreuders

Me myself I sent in this work, I’m inspired by a 10.000 year old archaeological site of a village in Cyprus. Especially the shape of circles struck me.

Neolithic Times, 2019, DMC yarn, neon yarn, cotton, postcard, hand embroidered, Mique Menheere, photo by Mique Menheere

Place to be

The exposition is to be seen til January 5, 2020.

CBK Emmen, De Fabriek (the factory), Ermerweg 88b, Emmen, Thursday till Sunday 13.00 – 17.00 hours

Most works shown at the CBK are for sale.

CBK Emmen, photo CBK Emmen

Interested in more embroidered art?

Then leave your email address here below and receive a notification when there’s a new post.

For now have fun and enjoy creativity!

Join the conversation

1 Comment

  1. Nice to read about the expo and the project in such a clear review!!! Mique told about the machine of the TextielLab, what surprised me was that none of the six works make by the machine where the same. Frank needed to correct and adjust during the embroidery process. Human influence was still needed. The embroidery artists needed to correct during the embroidery project too. But they made their choices based on their feeling on aesthetics.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply