Coming up


Looking for Janey

With this solo exhibition I am celebrating the first twenty years of Jane Morris’ influence on my art career. From February 24th up till March 19th 2024 at Voorhoutgalerie, Pulchri, the Hague.

(It will replace the commissioned solo at the Beverley Art Gallery due to their renovation related postponements.)

‘Looking for Janey’

In the intimate space of my studio I cherish the framed photocopy with the words ‘Previous life’ written on it. As predicted by the cup-bearer I recognised myself in the eyes of the anonymous woman. With this solo exhibition, exactly twenty years later, I wish to illustrate how this discovery has influenced my artistic endeavours.

Annemarie Jansen, Previous life, 2004
Felt-tip on inkjet copy of ‘Jane Morris leaning on an elbow’ by John Robert Parsons, 1865.
Original photo by Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0
Photo of Previous life by Margje Bijl c/o Pictoright 2022

After discovering Jane Morris’ name and life story I first focused on the physical similarities. What I saw as the biggest difference, her hair, became a topic in itself. Based on the works of art for which she posed in the 19th century I created the series ‘Hair as in’. With this I introduced the new direction in my work during a group exhibition in Amsterdam. 

Margje Bijl, 2009
‘Hair in a shell’, ‘Hair looking down’ (private collection), ‘Hair leaning on an elbow’,
‘Hair reclining’, ‘Hair as an aphrodisiac’, ‘Hair as a goddess’
aquarellepencil, Chinees paper on canvas, 53 x 63 cm.
Photo Hein van Liempd
c/o Pictoright 2023

As an artist, I always enjoy learning new skills and coming back to previous concepts with a different perspective. As a result this first series stuck in my head for a few years until I committed to a sequel. This time I took the formal language of the hairstyles as a starting point and used different hardness pencils to create more spatiality and movement in the drawings on smooth paper. Landscapes emerged. Jane’s hair only functioned as a starting point.
One of these drawings led to participation in the group exhibition ‘Nominees Van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2018’ and in the accompanying article ‘Herself’ Klaske Havik concluded with: ‘The muse gradually disappears from the picture and leaves room for other, new stories. New, but anchored in the search for the double, for the self, for the other. They invite you to look for the detail and what can be read in it.’ 

A few months later I started the ‘Fiber as in’ series. The structure of the paper had now become the most important source for determining the image. With a thin mechanical pencil I traced the shadows of the fibers on the Chinese paper. This led to the next step: creating my own paper. I created small waves in it which I further developed with pencil or ink. Doing so I gradually let go of the concept of the other and the waves of Janey’s hair changed into the waves of my youth, which I spent on board of a flat bottom in Friesland. 

Margje Bijl, ‘Fiber as in March and June 2021’
Pencil on handmade paper, 11 x 19 cm.
c/o Pictoright 2023

Last summer I started the new series ‘Water as in’, out of the desire to be completely surrounded by water. A viscous, dark gray, glistening mass with overexposed highlights. The sea resembles liquid lead. This image has become the starting point for my material research including graphite powder and tiny glass plates. In this way I would like to show an authentic self-portrait, within the framework of my visual double biography. 

Margje Bijl, ‘Water as in October 2023’
Pencil, ink, Chinese paper on canvas, 100 x 100 cm.
c/o Pictoright 2023

This article was written for Pulchri Magazine, published in December 2023.

‘Looking for Janey’
From February 24th up till March 19th 2024
Voorhoutgalerie, Pulchri
Lange Voorhout 15, the Hague, NL

All you can imagine is real

The current members of the ballot- and exhibition committees will exhibit in the Klinkenberg galleries from July 15th (opening at 16.00) up till August 13th 2023.

Myself I am participating with a diptych inspired by this photograph of Jane Morris in her later years.

Original photograph ‘Mrs. Morris and her two daughters at Kelmscott Manor’
by Carter & Co, 1905 ©The Fitzwilliam Museum.

For my diptych I have used the anthotype technique to create an afterimage of this photograph on an original cabinet card by the very same studio. I decided to present this image in the way it would have been included in a 19th century photo album, instead of tilting it.

Leaving You Behind 
anthotype with oak apple on cabinet card by Carter & Co.
(altered and reproduced with kind permission of The Fitzwilliam Museum)

Before I could print the image of Jane Morris I had to remove the original photograph of two anonymous girls. This albumen print was altered by me with aquarelle- and bister ink.

Leaving You Behind 
drawing on albumen print by Carter & Co.


Exhibited in a case display during Group Exhibition ‘Selfie’ at Pulchri from October 1st until October 22nd 2022. ‘Reminiscence of Mrs. Morris’ is published in the special issue of the Pre-Raphaelite Society called ‘Pre-Raphaelite Women’, August 2022.

‘Reminiscence of Mrs. Morris’, anthotype

‘Self-portrait as Mrs. Morris’, anthotype

Fall Salon and van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2022

Exhibited in a case display with another print during Group Exhibition ‘Fall Salon and van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2022’ at Pulchri from September 3rd until September 25st 2022. Published in ‘Anthotype Emulsions, Volume 1 – The collective research from photographers on World Anthotype Day 2022’.

Love is Not Enough, anthotype
on page of antique book by William Morris

Spring Salon and Jacob Hartog Prize 2022

Exhibited during Group Exhibition ‘Spring Salon and Jacob Hartog Prize 2022’ at Pulchri from April 2nd until April 24th 2022. ‘Perpetual Re’ut’ is published in the special issue of the Pre-Raphaelite Society called ‘Pre-Raphaelite Women’, August 2022

‘Perpetual Re’ut’
drawing on albumen carte de visité print
of an anonymous woman by an unknown photographer.

Pre-Raphaelite Sisters: Making Art Conference

‘The Pre-Raphaelite Sisters: Making Art’ Conference was held at the University of York (December 12 and 13, 2019) in conjunction with the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The mutual goal was ‘to reveal the women behind the pictures and to explore the overlooked contribution of twelve women to the iconic artistic movement the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.’ With my own art project I am trying to accomplish the very same therefor I was very much looking forward being a speaker at the Conference and visiting the exhibition.

‘We are delighted to inform you that we would like you to present a short piece on (or as) Jane Morris as an introduction to our open discussion session on the afternoon of Friday 13th December. The session will be aimed at The Future for the Pre-Raphaelite Sisters, and your innovative approach is just what we are looking for. We are particularly interested in how you as an artist have interpreted the way in which you resemble Jane Morris as art’.

Keynote speakers were Dr Jan Marsh (Art Historian and Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London) and Kirsty Stonell Walker (Author, Pre-Raphaelite Girl Gang). Opening remarks by Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn.
While meeting the other speakers during two intensive and inspiring days I especially enjoyed revealing to Elizabeth Prettejohn how she had changed my life… As it happens, she was the curator of the exhibition ‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti’ at the Vincent van Gogh Museum in 2004. It was a photocopy from an article about this exhibition that would become the starting point for my involvement with Jane Morris. Learning that Prettejohn thought my video was very sensitive was a pleasant surprise for me.
My video also interested curator Helena Cox and after showing her one of my research booklets she invited me for creating a solo exhibition at the Beverley Art Gallery.

Jane Morris (née Burden) by John Robert Parsons,
copied by Emery Walker Ltd, bromide print, 1865.
© National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG x199254

From now on I will desribe the other exhibitions I visited, starting with the Manchester Art Gallery where I visited the depot and archives with curator Hannah Williamson. Browsing through their artist files I unexpectedly held a poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in my hands, written to accompany his painting ‘Astarte Syriaca’, which is on permanent display in the museum.

Sonnet for ‘Astarte Syriaca’ by D.G. Rossetti, 1877
Manchester Art Gallery

The highlight of my trip was a visit to the British Library, where I spent a few hours reading Jane Morris’s notebooks, filled with several different styles of lettering. Sometimes half a millimeter in height, sometimes written in spirals or in different directions. Definitely worth a second visit, taking with me a sharpened pencil and a magnifying glass, as sadly no photography is allowed. With this illuminated poem, shown at the Pre-Raphaelite Sisters exhibition, you’ll get a glimpse of Jane’s lettering nevertheless.

Illuminated poem, calligraphy by Jane Morris, 1878
from the Castle Howard Collection, York

This poem is one of the ‘featured new discoveries and unseen works from public and private collections across the world’. True, I never before saw the lock of Lizzie Siddal’s hair and the asylum entry of Fanny Cornforth is also an intriguing item. But the exhibition didn’t provide me with new insights about Jane Morris’s artistic endeavours. I do understand why the displayed items had been chosen, they paint a picture with a broad brush.

As soon as you enter the room dedicated to Jane Morris you will notice the famous painting ‘The Day Dream’ by Rossetti and how it very naturally blends in with the paintings Edward Burne-Jones made of his own muse. It is a well-known fact that the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood used mythological stories to represent their own lives and it is almost impossible to leave this aspect out.

On the wall next to those large paintings are more intimate drawings of Jane Morris as Guinevere, showing the very early efforts of both William Morris and Rossetti to capture their new stunner. It would have added a new dimension to their triangle love story if the back of the painting ‘La Belle Iseult’ would have been displayed, on which William ‘proposed’ to Jane by writing the words ‘I cannot paint you but I love you.’ Instead, one of the eight versions of the painting ‘Proserpina’ is used to finish this theme ‘Model, Wives and Mistresses’.

‘Study for Guinevere’ by D.G. Rossetti, 1857
Manchester Art Gallery

On the wall opposite there is a selection of photographs made of Jane Morris in different moments of her life. Images from the wet plate collodion session, in which a 25 year old Jane was posed by Rossetti, are hung next to photographs of Jane as an elderly lady posing in her garden of Kelmscott Manor. A studio portrait made during one of her frequent travels to Italy is showing Jane in her forties, with some friends. One of them being TJ Cobden-Sanderson who was persuaded by Jane during a dinner party to take up bookbinding.

It is my guess that the curators wanted to stress the importance of mutual inspiration. Close to the photographs hangs a caricature made with pencil by Edward Burne-Jones, depicting Rossetti’s obsession for his muse Jane. The catalogue says he made it to impress his own muse Maria Zambaco who was an artist herself and is represented in the following room.
Other female artists included in this exhibition are Marie Spartali Stillman, who made the watercolour of Kelmscott Manor. It is hanging next to one of the studies for ‘the Hour Glass’, which would become the last painting Jane Morris sat for. The other study by Evelyn de Morgan can be seen in her own room, before you enter Jane’s.

‘Compositional study for the Hour Glass’, by Evelyn de Morgan, 1905
The De Morgan Foundation

In this exhibition Jane Morris is depicted from the viewpoint of her close contemporaries. Images made of her greatly outnumber the items made by herself. The embroidered evening bag and the illuminated poem ‘Oneglia’ do show her talents but I have seen more impressive embroidery by Jane and I think it is a missed opportunity to highlight Jane’s own creativity and influence as an artist.

Evening bag stitched by Jane Morris, circa 1878
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

However, I shamefully have to admit that my own research- and art project was also limited by my own viewpoint as her ‘contemporary double’. One of the recurrent themes was ‘muse versus artist versus woman of flesh and blood’.

It is my underlying intention to free Jane Morris of the myth that has been created around her. I have created a role for myself, based on Jane Morris’s history to complement and modernise her persona.

After participating in the Conference ‘Pre-Raphaelite Sisters: Making Art’ and visiting the exhibitions and archives described above I became very curious to find out who Jane Morris herself was as an artist.

I would like to finish this travel report with some wise words of Jan Marsh, who curated the exhibition and edited the accompanying catalogue. As one of the key speakers during the conference she sharply answered critical questions about the title of the exhibition that suggests there actually existed a coherent movement of Sisters. She would welcome a dialogue: ‘How would you call it?’
She also explained why the famous image ‘Proserpina’ was used once again to promote the exhibition and why the information about the images was so detailed. ‘Exhibitions must serve the least informed.’
Marsh also suggested that if you would have a critical idea about the exhibition you should propose your ideal exhibition yourself. As I was sitting right next to her I jumped at the chance of creating my own interventions in the National Portrait Gallery or any other museum with a Pre-Raphaelite collection where my Jane Morris related work would fit in. But unfortunately the National Portrait Gallery for example will be closed for at least 3 years as from this summer.
The exhibition ‘Pre-Raphaelite Sisters’ runs until January 27, 2020 so grab your chance to see it or visit my Instagram account for more spoilers. You can also sign up for my Dutch or English newsletter (on the contact page) if you would like to be informed about the progress of my project ‘Reflections on Jane Morris’.

Fall Salon and van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2019

Exhibited during the Group Exhibition ‘Fall Salon and van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2019’ at Pulchri from September 21st until October 13th 2019.

Toyobo engravings of ‘Sunlit Studio’ and ‘Artist and Muse’
added to book ‘Rossetti, Dante and Ourselves’ by Nicolette Gray, 1945.

Fresh Arising

Group exhibition ‘Fresh Arising’
from July 27th until August 18th 2019
Hardenbergzaal, Pulchri

(detail, sculptures by Martie van der Loo)

Fiber as in February and March 2019

Spring Salon and Jacob Hartog Prize 2019

‘Golden Rain, Glass Ceiling’, Toyobo engraving of analogue assemblage.

Exhibited during Group Exhibition ‘Spring Salon and Jacob Hartog Prize 2019’ at Pulchri
from April 6th until 28th 2019.

Exhibited during Group Exhibition ‘Van Bruegel tot Bommel’ at Haagse Kunstkring from July 3rd until 28th 2019 and published in Exhibition Catalogue ‘Van Bruegel tot Bommel’.

Exhibited during Group Exhibition ‘Ben jij de nieuwe Rembrandt?’ at Galerie Leidse Lente from July 15th until September 13th 2019.

Van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2018

Proud to announce that my drawing ‘Hair as in August 2018′ was nominated for the van Ommeren de Voogt prize 2018. Prize winner Paul Nassenstein, Sandra Thie and myself are awarded with a trio exhibition in the Hardenbergzaal at Pulchri, from 13 January till 3 February 2019.

I am showing a new series of 14 pencil drawings, inspired by Jane Morris’ hair. Made between 2017 and 2019 with aquarelle pencil on aquarelle paper, Japanese and Chinese paper.

On 20 January Sandra Thie and myself will have an artist talk with Ria Doolaard, from 15.00 till 16.00 at the van Hardenbergzaal in Pulchri.

Hair as in August 2018

Portrait as in June 2018

Pulchri magazine published an article about the ‘van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2018’. The piece about my work is written by Klaske Havik and this fragment was translated by Pulchri.

The pencil drawings of Jane’s hairstyles have been transformed into leading a life of their own in these new drawings. They reach into the depths of drawing itself. The portraits still show traces of thoughts and stories. In the detail of skin and hair lie labyrinthine landscapes in which the viewer can get lost. The muse gradually disappears from the image and leaves room for other, new stories. New, but anchored in the search for the doppelganger, to the self, to the other. They invite you to look the detail and think about what you can read in it.

Hair as in October 2018

Hair as in June 2017 and March 2018

Wabi-Sabi Portrait, 2017 and 2018
(on loan)

A Memory Palace of Her Own

Photographs from my series ‘A Memory Palace of Her Own’ will be exhibited at the William Morris Gallery from 11 January to 9 March 2014.

We would like to offer you a slot in our 2014 programme, showing the photographs in the Discovery Lounge…It would be great to mark the commemorative year with a contemporary take on Jane.

What are you proposing to display?
A series of four self-portraits. I visited several of Rossetti, Jane and William Morris’ former homes and took staged photos on location with the photographer Hein van Liempd. Referring to Jane Morris’ life story I transformed her world into my own, adopting contemporary clothing and poses.

On his Doorstep, Margje Bijl, 2011
(photograph by Hein van Liempd)

How is your work relevant to the William Morris Gallery?
The William Morris Gallery is one of William Morris’ two former homes included in my series ‘A Memory Palace of Her Own’. The other, Red House, was designed exclusively by William Morris and Philip Webb, who collaborated in the design of the ‘Green Dining Room’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum which is also shown in my series.

I cannot Love You, Margje Bijl, 2011
(photograph by Hein van Liempd)

Preparing for the Guests, Margje Bijl, 2011
(photograph by Hein van Liempd)

Are there parallels with the collection?
I took photos at Rossetti’s studio, as this is the location of the famous photo series of Jane Morris which was the incentive for my own project. In the archives of the William Morris Gallery I have studied the reproductions of this series. There, I also enjoyed the privilege of reading Jane’s letters. I have incorporated her handwriting in my photo of the Red House.

A New Pattern for the Empress, Margje Bijl, 2011
(photograph by Hein van Liempd)

Why is it of interest to our visitors?
In the course of my trips to London and Oxford I have seen many inspiring works of art and artefacts from various museums, archives and from one depot. In my work, I often refer to these objects or quote from the many works on the Pre-Raphaelites. As an artist, it is my hope that my personal viewpoint will supplement the existing works of art and artefacts in the William Morris Gallery to contribute to Jane and William Morris and Rossetti’s cultural heritage.

Inspiring Spirits

Exhibited during the group exhibition ‘Spoken en Geesten’ at Sieboldhuis (Leiden) from December 17th 2012 until February 17th 2013.

‘Looking for Janey’, 2012
oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm