Persona February, 4th 2021 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 301- Sonja ter Heijden

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 301- Sonja ter Heijden
Some time ago I was at Royal Delft / the Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles. There, the exhibition ‘The Blue Secret’ with work by Sonja ter Heijden was opened by the CEO of Royal Delft, Henk Schouten.

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That afternoon I not only got to know the beautiful and precise work of Sonja, but also underwent the Royal Delft Experience. With Jessica van Erkel we went to the first room of the museum, where we also saw the first three works by Sonja amid Delft blue pottery. Ten of her works hung in the Ceramic Rooms (which are part of the Royal Delft Experience). Henk Schouten said he was impressed by Sonja’s work. “That deserves an exhibition”, he thought immediately. And so it happened.

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Age-old traditions
In the Ceramic Rooms we also saw photos of visits by members of the Royal Family and ministers who wanted to show domestic and foreign guests a specific example of Dutch industry and art. In the factory, despite the late afternoon hour, we still saw some craftsmen working amid pottery of all shapes and all stages.
The Delft blue pottery is still completely hand painted according to age-old traditions we saw in a film in the multimedia space. In addition to the history of Delftware and Royal Delft itself, the entire production process was also shown in a fun way. In the 17th century, there were dozens of pottery factories in Delft, we saw, but De Porceleyne Fles, founded in 1653, was the only one who has managed to save it to this day, also by making sharp choices every now and then.

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The blue secret
Sonja ter Heijden has felt closely associated with her city of Delft and Delft porcelain from an early age. She started painting for the first time in 2005. Through daily hours of painting sessions, she developed in a relatively short time into a gifted painter of classical realistic works with a magical undertone.
Sonja: “The blue secret of Delft porcelain, its origins and its rich history have always captivated me from my youth. For me, in Delft Blue, East and West, the blue of the sky and the earthly clay come together through human craft. My predilection for old Dutch painting from the Golden Age has inspired me in terms of composition and use of color and has formed a certain feeling for an unmistakable drama. ”

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Surreal dream
However, she did not want to make copies of the Old Masters, but to find her own form that suited her creative spirit. Sonja: “The life that man leads takes the form of an invisible dark force and for this reason does not appear in my paintings. However, in richly ornamented marble attributes, the wonder of nature comes to life in its grandeur and glory. Symbols show the connection between present, past and future as a romantic representation in a surreal dream.
I wanted to elevate the blue secret in which everything comes together for me into an icon where the wonder of nature can appear in all its diversity in my paintings as a connection between heaven and earth. ”

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For the production of her paintings Sonja uses ‘Masonite panel’ as a background. It is a sheet material that is frequently used in construction, shrink-free, as hard as oak and resistant to all weather conditions. Ideal material to make smooth paintings.

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Sonja: “The Masonite is primed three times with a pink primer and water-sanded after each drying. This creates a perfectly smooth and highly adhesive surface for the oil paint. First I draw a detailed design and then I start with the ‘underpainting’. When it is dry, the detailed finishing begins. In between, water sanding is done – if necessary. “
When the painting is ready, it is varnished with satin lacquer, so that there is a hard protective layer against dust and tarnish (grease, smoke). Then it is provided with a nice, solid frame.
The collection of the Royal Delft Museum is extensive and spans many centuries. In addition to the historical collection from the factory, part of the royal collection of Delft earthenware is also on permanent display and attention is paid to the company’s many years of innovation and the modern collections.

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