The Clay Diggers

— Harlingen

In collaboration with the Albarello Tile Factory, Atelier NL portrayed their own craft of digging in the Dutch landscape through the readaptation of traditional Harlingen tiles. Since the 16th century, Harlingen has been known for its unique blue & white tiles. Using clay dug from the south of Harlingen, traditional images are transferred to the tiles by means of a dotted line that act as a guide for painters. By experimenting with computer-based image transfer techniques, Atelier NL developed a modern readaptation of the popular tiles, which present modern-day landscapes through a traditional visual language.

Using photographs taken while digging in Dutch farmlands, the project speaks to the value of individual labour, getting your hands in the dirt, and the physicality involved in this process. The project as a whole serves as an eloquent and timely reminder of our roots; from craft and soil to culture and geography.

The tiles were shown as a part of the travelling exhibition 'Lage Landen' at the Gemeentemuseum het Hannemahuis in Harlingen. This exhibition presented a selection of paintings from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, at five different museums around the country. The paintings are exhibited together with pieces from the museums' own collections in order to examine the identity of the Netherlands on the basis of the four elements: earth, water, air and fire. We were asked to contribute to the earth element of this exhibition by creating a unique installation for each museum that references the area it is shown in.