I am CelindaVersluis, illustrator, painter, and graphic designer. I live and work under Rotterdam’s fog. I graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in Fine Arts and Advertising. For years I worked in advertisement and did commission paintings. Then I realized I always created things to the standards of beauty of other people. There wasn’t much Celinda in my works. I decided to bring a change and started to create things that made me happy. Soon enough there was a series of portraits. I called them Les Belles Dames (The Beautiful Ladies).
I remember I had a notebook when I was eight. I penciled it full with portraits of people I found exotic. Years later, at the Academy of Arts it was model drawing modules that attracted me most; the female body and portrait in particular.
For Les Belles Dames I was inspired by fin-de-siècle French postcards with portraits of refined gentlewomen. I made larger ink sketches of these portraits. When I was happy with it I went a step further and combined it with something else that made me happy, things that I brought home from the secondhand market and jumble sales: stylish and antique crockery.
I have selected portraits of Hélène, Jeanne, Marie Louise and Madeleine to print on porcelain, combined with my still life illustrations: branches, birds, flowers, and color dots. I mostly work on antique teapots and sometimes on plates and other crockery. I prefer the teapot because of its elemental salience on the table. It always combines with contemporary design in a satisfactory way or creates a salient contrast, eliciting a moment of attention. Attention for une belle dame, and thereby for yourself whenever you are curled up in your payjamas on the couch, holding a warm cup; or attention to togetherness when you are having a moment with someone who’s important to you.
In looking at the form of the crockery I see which of my ladies would like the piece. That is, every belle dame has her own style and character that benefits certain shapes and textures. Then I handprint the porcelain so I am certain it fits the form and the feeling of the object. Then, the painted porcelains go into an oven for ceramics for 2 days after which the ladies and the objects are inseparable.
Hélène is a romantic type. Pots with original roses on them agree with her character. Madeleine is frivolous and self-willed. For her I find rather conspicuous produces with a retro character or print on them. Porcelains with soft gray-colored cornstalk patterns speak to the introvert Jeanne. She cherishes a love for nature and strolls around her cottage nearby the forest. Marie Louise is a trustable and quiescent personality with firmness in her voice. In my antique expeditions I find her works with strong simple shapes without original print.
Giving old crockery new life with contemporary redecoration is a way of recycling. It makes me glad to see that more and more people reuse things and value things not new.
So my porcelains have intrinsic value for me. Yet they also bring me a lot of precious things! There is the sighting of the perfect teapot at the antique market. There is that standing in an old pigs’ barn, opening dozens boxes full of secret collections with the fingers frozen; an old lady had collected them all her life, every single one with a story!
Every antique piece of porcelain has an old story as well as a new one. Its old story is where it’s come from. Its new story is the adventures into which it enters, in its new jacket, when it goes travels the world. Les belles dames retell these stories as well as their own ones. Sometimes they chat with each other. Sometimes it’s their humor that is speaking, through their shapes and colors. Sometimes they tell you about the seasons, or the house they live in.
Next to antique, I have extended my work to new porcelain tiles, papers and hangers. The four Belles Dames are also to be found on postcards.