Art on Sunday discovered Arcadia Friesland

REPORT – For Art on Sunday I was in Friesland last week to explore Arcadia. In 2018, Friesland was the European Capital of Culture. This event continues in Arcadia this summer. Arcadia Friesland is responsible for 100 days of exhibitions, events and ‘community’. Until August 14, you can discover Paradise in Friesland, admire Gaia and walk through the trees.

We had the key to Paradise for half an hour © photo Wilma Lankhorst.


Before we explore, let’s explore two concepts for better context: arcadia and community. The word Arcadia or Arcadia, according to Our Language, refers to a sparsely populated, mountainous region of southern Greece. Ewoud Sanders describes onercadia as another word for “lovely, paradisiacal place”; synonymous with the corresponding adjective arcadian include idyllic (source Geonymordbog 1995). In art (history) got arcade and arcadian its own meaning: such is one arcade for a shepherd novel and arcadian poetryArcadian literature and arcadian painting as art forms inspired by country life or pastoral life, and which idealize its pristine, lovely character (source: Onze Taal).

Arcadia Friesland, community, dozens of volunteers walking the trees in Leeuwarden © photo Wilma_Lankhorst.

Example of community, dozens of volunteers walk through Leeuwarden with the trees © photo Wilma Lankhorst.

What does community mean?

The Frisian word common also has several layers. in Dutch, common translated as ‘community’. But in Friesland it means more than that. There is common for coherence and efforts to protect society. I was born in Achterhoek myself, and we know the concept there naobership who have the same charge. A project like Arcadia Friesland can only exist common because hundreds of volunteers are needed to run all the events and exhibitions.

BOSK, a hiking forest in Leeuwarden

Our first encounter with Arcadia is BOSK, a hiking forest with more than a thousand large and small trees. The trees go with volunteers through the center of the Frisian capital for 100 days. After 14 August 2022, the trees will have solid soil around the roots in the center of the city and in other parts of the municipality. Creator, artist and composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven gives the forest and the trees a voice. He wonders, “What can we learn from the trees, and how does the forest view the human world?” You can also go for a walk with the trees yourself. Every weekday between 13.00 and 17.00, 100 to 150 trees go for a walk. For more details, visit If you are staying in Leeuwarden, it is also nice to visit the forest in the evening. The trees are then magically lit and listen to the birds.

Gaia: You’ve never seen Mother Earth like this

After a healthy breakfast in the Stadhouderlijk Hof we go to Franeker, the town of Eise Eisinga. I’m sure Eise would have loved to visit the Martini Church to see Gaia. The English artist Luke Jerram (Stroud, 1974) lets you see and experience how the astronauts from Apollo 17 saw Mother Earth from the moon. In the sanctuary hangs a globe with a diameter of seven meters. The earth circles here before your eyes. And if, like us, you are so lucky that the organist plays the church organ, then you are in a special place in the universe. Gaia is a traveling project. See here for all dates and locations in Friesland, including Oerol (Terschelling) and Nes on Ameland.

Arcadia Friesland House from Rudninkai (2022) © Augustas Serapinas Arcadia Friesland © photos Wilma_Lankhorst.

House from Rudninkai (2022) © Augustas Serapinas Arcadia Friesland © photos Wilma Lankhorst.

Paradise is located in Oranjewoud

The gate to paradise (pronounced paradise) is located in the green oasis of the Frisian Oranjewoud. At the information pavilion (opposite hotel Tjaarda), volunteers Annie greets us with a big smile. It’s her first day and there’s still a lot to discover and learn. According to the leaflet, you can explore the 15 sculptures in Frisisk Skov on foot or by bicycle. Our preference is the (shared) bike. The map and signage leave something to be desired in these first days.

After finding the delicate haute natural creations (Harvest Recasted) by Diana Scherer (Germany 1979), we are ‘lost in paradise’. The orange signs point us in the wrong direction, and as we cycle we push further and further into the green paradise. With the help of some residents, we eventually enter Charles Avery’s fantasy world (Scotland, 1973). Volunteer Nanne sits in the sun and welcomes. He says that Avery has been working on his project ‘The Islanders’ for 15 years. Here he maps his island on a fictional island with drawings, videos, audio fragments and objects.

Arcadia Friesland Ecocathedral (1970-3000) © Louis Le Roy about Arcadia Friesland © photos Wilma_Lankhorst.

The Eco-Cathedral (1970-3000) © Louis Le Roy at Arcadia Friesland © photos Wilma Lankhorst.

From island to eco-cathedral

After our island adventure, we cycle along the Jeanne Bieruma Oosting road to the eco-cathedral Louis de Roy (Holland, 1924-2012). In this complex, the power of nature and human creativity meet. For years, the surrounding municipalities brought their excess curbs, paving stones, and other building materials to IJntzelaan (pronounced Ientzelaan), where La Roy began construction. Like the Sagrada Familia, the Eco-Cathedral is a project that continues to grow after the creator’s death. In the cathedral’s green oasis, the Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen (1987) takes visitors on a journey through the story of the bird Kaua’i ‘o’o, which lived on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i until 1987. In addition to a video (Re- Animated) there is an Augmented Reality experience. RECOMMENDED. After a half day of adventure, we still have not seen everything. If you want to stay a little longer in Paradise, you can order a three-day Paradise package here.

Extras: three exhibition tips

Arcadia_Friesland, play with the museums in Museum Belvédère © photo Wilma_Lankhorst

Impression of frolicking with the museums in the Museum Belvédère © photo Wilma Lankhorst.

Playing with the mice

The Belvédère Museum is located within the confines of Paradise. As part of ‘Jeanne’s Summer’, the exhibition Jeanne Bieruma Oosting, Walk with the Muses can be seen here until 21 August 2022. In this exhibition, emphasis is placed on the groundbreaking graphics from her Paris period. These works sometimes appear morbid, mysterious and / or melancholy. Jeanne also celebrates the nightlife in her Parisian years (1929-1940). Throughout his long career, the artist left behind an extensive oeuvre that includes oil paintings, watercolors, graphics and works on paper. To create her work, she often had to ‘play with the musicians’, as she herself described it.

Arcadia Friesland, a campaign in the Fries Museum © photo Wilma_Lankhorst.

A la campaign in the Fries Museum © photo Wilma Lankhorst.

A campaign in the Frisian Museum

The painting exhibition à la campaign: The French light from Maris to Monet can be seen in the Fries Museum until 17 July 2022. You will now meet the French Impressionists from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Leeuwarden. Another exhibition in the arcadia context is Fertile groundFertile soil is a one-year open research project. The Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma (Utrecht, 1980) has designed three rooms as a dynamic laboratory. The idea is that people here start talking to each other. Frisians, farmers, politicians, nature lovers and experts are considering a key question: ‘What future do you want for the Frisian peat meadow area?’ Fertile Grounds can be seen until April 10, 2023.

Arcadia Friesland, Maartje Korstanje and De Utrecht © photo Wilma_Lankhorst.

Explore the Underwater Suspicion under Arcadia © Maartje Korstanje in De Utrecht © photo Wilma Lankhorst.

Underwater suspicion in De Utrecht

We discovered a little gem on Tweebaksmarkt in the historic center of Leeuwarden. The Utrecht Art Nouveau office was built here in 1904. This piece of cultural heritage has recently been completely renovated and equipped with a new exhibition wing. Until 27 August 2022, the Zealand artist Maartje Korstanje (1982) will surprise visitors with fascinating (underwater) images. For its installations, Korstanje works with circular materials such as the bio-based concrete Xiriton, which has its origins in Friesland. Korstanje’s sculptures do not spread good weather. They make room for pondering and at the same time reveal something urgent. You can explore Maartje Korstanje’s underwater presumptions until 27 August 2022 every Friday and Saturday afternoon for € 3.50 pp. Please register your visit by email [email protected]

You can visit and experience the program for Arcadia Friesland until 14 August 2022. Here you will find all the details about the program.

Arcadia Friesland, See you soon © photo Wilma_Lankhorst.

See you (See you in Frisian) © photo Wilma Lankhorst.

© tekst, foto’s en video’s Wilma Lankhorst
© gebruik van de afbeeldingen met dank aan en toestemming van het Fries Museum, De Utrecht, Museum Belvédère en de genoemde kunstenaars.

Listen here to the TEDx speech by Merlijn Twaalfhoven @TEDxApeldoorn (2019).

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