I remember one of my homeless clients telling me, after I had quit my job after 20 odd years, that he liked me so much more. It seemed to him that I was more connected. Another client told me, to my great embarrassment, that in the future he would remember me because of three lines. “After every useless, weekly, 45-minute meeting you always said these words: See you next week. And there I was, on the pavement, without my questions and wishes being answered.”
I guess I became a better version of myself when I decided to not address myself a Social Psychiatric Nurse anymore. It is when I decided to shut up, listen and just be present. Deep connection for me is being felt when no words are spoken. Getting older, I feel I am losing the urge to speak and to listen more. To my inner voice and the voices of others.
Being in my project The Living Museum (www.thelivingmuseum.nl) is probably the total embodied transformation of who I really became and who I want to be. People have their own studio in this Artist Community and wonderful place. It is a thousand square meters packed with outsider art.
My finest moment is when people walk in for the first time. They gaze at all this beautiful art and roughly they show three emotions: they show a smile from ear to ear, it brings tears to their eyes, or they mute, in utter wonder. And most of the time they look at me, often without saying anything, and we have deep understanding, without words that have to be said. Most artists cherish the fact that I had no questions when they walked in for the 1st time. For most of them it is the most important reason why they stayed, apart from having their own safe haven.
After 5 wonderful years we will close our doors, January 1st 2021, and that’s just because our rent lease will not be continued, and they want to sell the building. The artists will find new ways to expose themselves and their art to the outside world. They have grown so much in these 5 magical years.
Eternally grateful for that and the friends we became. I will move my studio to an anti-kraak-site in Amsterdam and will start searching for another free of rent building. We are very thankful that GGZinGeest gave us the building and the opportunity to develop our model. Five of our artists have found a new space in the middle of their Village. That is one of the reasons why I started this initiative. A transformation from being a victim of circumstances to the operator of your own existence.
There are three other Living Museums. In Tilburg, Helmond and Eindhoven. Leeuwarden will follow soon, as will Amsterdam (my goal for 2021). A thousand people and more came to visit us. We were part of multiple exibitions, art fairs, festivals. We traveled to Austria, Switzerland, Norway, South Korea, the US and France. We have one more month to go.
COVID ruined our plans for a farewell party. So that will happen somewhere next year, that’s a promise.
Let’s celebrate these abundant 5 years of friendship, personal development, growth, recovery and prosperity.
It’s not the end of the World.