Something old, something new & something blue!

Summer is Netherlands is synonymous with fun. Sunny days are such a rare luxury, that the Dutch calendar makes sure all the festivities fall on the warmest days of the year. Which brings us to May 28, Whit Monday, a holiday all over Europe, celebrated here with a twist of the old and artistic – with an antique and arts market, held right here in Delft. 
Organised by ETP Holland, the market started 15 years ago and is created overnight each year. Placed ideally in centre the Markt, between iconic monuments of the city, it is surrounded by pubs and souvenir shops. I reached at noon, when things were already in full swing, artists were painting in the sun, scary old dolls were squinting at curious shoppers and old Dutch books were relieved to be out of dusty shelves for some sun bathing. 

Crayoned Delft

Holland based artist Cor Melchers painted scenes from across the Netherlands. The smaller canvasses cost about  75, while the larger ones, including the incredibly beautiful scene from Delft (below, centre) cost upwards of  100.

Shopping with the new church in the background; Melcher’s Delft; Works by abstract artist Jan Paludanus 

Dolls’ day out

While dolls universally try and repair the damage done to their reputation by the 1988 horror flick Chucky, some antique dolls, or even those just a few decades old, don’t really help matters. Take, for instance, the dolls at the stall of the Hague-based special gifts shop, Tien. The stall had some really cool Harlequin-style dolls (Priced at   20) and a lot of strange looking naked baby dolls. As someone who still has her baby doll from 26 years ago, I understand the appeal, but I’ll be honest and say, it’s also a little creepy. But, to add to the air of the quaint and mysterious, the shop also had some cool masks, old jewellery, hand made cushion covers and Renaissance art inspired photo albums. 

Scary dolls at the Tien stall and some really pretty ones too; Further down, at another stall, some dolls in need of urgent medical attention

Dutch gender lessons

A feminist manifesto or just a tile for   3?
The thing about rummaging through old stuff is that there is always a lot to learn. At one of the stalls I came across a box full of tiles from the 70s. Some with funny messages, such as “I’m a lump- beer gives me a belly and work gives me a hump” and others just pretty and decorative. One of my favourites was one which had an image of a woman using a men’s urinal. According to the shopkeeper, who translated the inscription for me, it was made around the time the women’s movement was at it’s peak in Netherlands. Roughly translated it means, ‘for a woman to be truly emancipated, she has to learn how to stand and pee’. Definitely an echo of Simone de Beauvoir’s insights in The Second Sex (1949), but more as an ironic comment on the times than an actual part of the feminist manifesto. The tiles were priced a  3 and all had the same basic black and white format. 
For those who can read Dutch, there were a lot of old books on sale, very interesting looking books. A encyclopedia of magic dating back to god knows when, some popular fiction, an old, yellowing, hard bound tome of kitchen instructions and recipes. Sadly, this was one time I had to sit out on the book-shopping, but hopefully, but the next Whit Monday, I’ll at least be able to translate titles. 

Some of my favourite things

Besides the emancipation tiles, a stall a little further down had a whole host of historically significant tiles. From the shop, Tiles and Tiques, which is run by Delft-based Martin van Leeuwen (seen in the picture), the shop collects porcelain tiles from 1907 to 1977. The tiles range from Coat of Arms of Dutch families to decorative tiles from flooring of homes and public venues.
Right at the entrance of end of the market, a Mineralogist had set up shop, and was attracting quite a few customers. After a detailed conversation about the person’s needs, ailments and other things (in Dutch), he would crush a little bit of one of his rocks and hand over the minerals very sagely. 
Beer and ale mugs of all shapes, sizes and antecedents were scattered all over the market. One huge wrought iron beer mug was the centre piece of the stall by Delft’s Steven Van Haaren. He first priced at   15, but brought it down to   10 after some time. Haaren’s stall was full of interesting stuff, including a home altar piece of an intricately made Madonna and Child from Northern France or Spain dating back to the turn of the century (  80). He also had  old tin boxes from around the 1900s. The crude looking things were originally cookie boxes in which bakers would give customers freshly baked cookies. The bakers returned € 1 (a lot of money in those days) to people who took back the cans to them. 

(From left) Recycle those cookie tins for €1; Beer on tap, literally; a beautiful home altar

And, finally, that something blue

Blue and white tin-glazed pottery is a trademark of Delft, often even called Delftware. The style of pottery dates back to 1512, when it was first made in Antwerp by Guido da Savino. But, the potters in Delft specialised the art. Today, every curio shop in the city has knick-knacks made in blue and white – from windmills to china plates, miniature crockery to shoes of all sizes. While none of these are the trademarked Delft Blauw (Delft Blue originals, rare collectibles today), they are typical of this tiny town and a must-have for every resident and tourist. 

(From left)A cow-Bank for €1, I call him Mooses; the elephant of the east in Delft Blauw; tiles, in every colour, including the typical blue, at Tiles and Tiques

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