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 same so I was very much looking forward to be a speaker at the Conference and to visit the exhibition.

With a short video I answered the question: ‘We are particularly interested in how you as an artist have interpreted the way in which you resemble Jane Morris as art’.

You’ll find the travel report underneath the Research page.


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 at William Morris Gallery

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.

Reflections on Jane Morris

Dutch artist Margje Bijl (1975) was given a photograph of Jane Morris (1839-1914) and at first glance thought that she was looking at a photograph of herself. The discovery of the striking resemblances between herself and Jane Morris led to the project ‘Reflections on Jane Morris’.

Invitation exhibition ‘Reflections on Jane Morris’ by Margje Bijl
at Gallery ‘de KunstSuper in Rotterdam, 2010

Jane Morris was the wife of English designer William Morris. She was also the muse and lover of the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Thanks to the love that these two famous artists felt for Jane Morris, there are numerous pictures available of her today. This is the source material that Margje Bijl uses while investigating the similarities between herself and this 19th century beauty.

Janey, leaning forward, 2009

Margje Bijl has created a twilight zone where two women from two different worlds meet. In this twilight zone the visual code language of the Victorian era flows effortlessly into our visual language of today.

Girl with a view, 2010
(private collection)

Margje Bijl allows Jane Morris to possess attributes of present-day women. Morris is not casting her eyes down anymore: she is sitting self-confidently upright. Margje Bijl combines both the characteristics of herself and Jane Morris while creating a portrait. It soon becomes impossible to decide which characteristic belongs to whom. Which posture is twisted? Which hairstyle is dated, which expression natural? Significant time elements are transformed in such a way that the resemblances between these two women bridge the time span stretching over one and a half century.

Hair reclining, 2009