An evening full of feminism, art and time-travelling.
By Eden van der Moere
A little while ago, PUMA organised the event “UCR Meets: Dorine Zelders”. Together with PUMA’s Hannah Ludikhuijze, the free-spirited Dorine spoke of feminism, art and time-traveling Join Tabula RASA as we look back on a fascinating evening…
Hannah Ludikhuijze: Welcome everyone, but of course Dorine, you’re most welcome. Thank you for being here today. I think some of you might know Dorine. She works at the Zeeuws Museum, where you all have been during IntRoweek. She is a very enthusiastic, in charge of education, but apart from that, she also has a very interesting life. She has the ambition to become a 100. Although she did acknowledge that she was starting to feel a little bit old now that she’s asked for an interview like this. She loves her horse, has many hobbies, but she has especially very interesting views on life. She even brought some books here, she has very interesting views and we’re just going to talk about them.
As you might know the concept of “College Tour”, what we do is, firstly talk a bit and you are, at any moment, free to ask questions. If we’re talking about a topic and you think “Oh wait, I have a question about that!” you are always most welcome to ask the question. Don’t be afraid that you’re interrupting, because you’re not. After 45 minutes, we’ll have a little break and then we’ll have some closing remarks.
The Zeeuws Museum is the starting point, of course, because it’s how I know you. Why the Zeeuws Museum?
D: That’s a long story. I will cut it short. I think I was 11 or 12 when my father was one of the persons who went on one of the boats here in the Oosterschelde to find the stones of the Roman goddess, Nehallenia. That was, of course, a spectacular archeological find and so I was very busy with the goddess who lived here, in the Roman period. Signs of her were found in Domburg and Colijnsplaat, so I was obsessed with Nehallenia. There was this very old society, “De Koninklijke Zeeuwse Genootschap Der Wetenschappen” and I read all those old books and all those magazines, all those articles and I was very impressed by everything that had to do with this magnificent province, Zeeland. Because my grandparents lived here, but I didn’t.”
H: Because you are from Utrecht, right?
D: Yes. I lived near Utrecht, but I always went to my grandparents and I always went to the seaside, because we had a very little wooden house on the seaside, that was from the first generation of holiday homes, so it was very, very rough and that’s where I grew up in a certain way. For me, Zeeland, was filled up with days on the beach, walking barefoot, trying to ride horses at every possible hour – six o’clock in the morning – but also, walking along the seashore and and finding those little red Roman roof tiles and pottery pieces. And then, at the age of 12, I visited the Zeeuws Museum. I went to the art academy and when I was 24, I had never done a single job interview and I only had to write one application letter in my whole life and that was for the Zeeuws Museum. I was accepted and that’s where I’m still working. For 30 years now.
H: And what exactly are you doing at the Zeeuws Museum?
D: Well, when you are working there for 30 years and you’re almost half a century old, you notice that you do a lot of things. So I started there as a person who could do almost everything, make an exhibition, make all kinds of programs for 4-year-olds to 100-year-olds. And now, of course, I work in a team with several people, so the jobs are more restricted. But I have done a lot of things. What do you want to know? Making exhibitions, changing the things in the glass cases. But what you’re doing in this museum, is finding out that history is a very flexible thing. It’s really hard to understand history and that you make almost everything out of it. And that’s what we do in this small museum, because we are well known in The Netherlands, for doing very rare things, or changing the way people look at history. That’s why I like to work at the Zeeuws Museum, because bigger museums, the more people are busy with it, the more it’s controlled, the more it’s put into a framework that was already established. The Zeeuws Museum is very creative.
H: Exactly. And was it also something you aimed for when you were at the art academy? Did you know that you really wanted to do something outside this framework of what is art and what isn’t?
D: I did VWO in high school and I went to the art academy. But to be honest with you, I would have liked to study theology, but I went to the art academy. In my third year, I knew that I wanted to work at a museum. And that’s where I started to work towards working in a museum.
H: So you knew very early on that you wanted to work at a museum?
D: Yeah, and that’s because I met someone, who I will remember my whole life, and he was the educational worker at the Museum van Volkskunde in Leiden. It has very large collections, beautiful museum. He was 70 years old and he was still working there everyday and I met him at the art academy. When I met this old man, I knew that I wanted to do the work he did. He is still living!
H: Do you see yourself working when you’re 70 years old?
D: Well, I have decided that when I am lucky enough to be able to stop working at 67, then I want to study and have a promotion before my 90s. And that would be something that has to do with God, and human beings and men and women.
H: Because you mentioned before that you actually wanted to study theology, but you never did that?
D: I’m not so good at sitting still. I think you students are all very brave, by studying. I cannot study, I’m more someone who has to creative. You have to be logical, and I’m not logical at all. I don’t want to. It’s my power, but in a certain way it’s also my flaw. For me, it works best to have a very logical person by my side, because then it adds up. That’s what we do at the Zeeuws Museum. We are all different people, but we have to build on each other. That’s when you create magic. It’s very important that, when you are working in a team, that you don’t fight each other’s magical side or power. I think that’s what the future is all about, how can we cooperate together? We know so much now about how the brain works, so I hope that it stimulates people to improve them working together.
H: But in order to work together, you need to know yourself really well.
D: Well, I think that when you are around 12 years old, you should have a psychology course. I think primary schools are so stupid these days. We have to change so much in the way we educate. I mean, I’m very glad that you’re all here, it soothes my mind, but in a certain way, I feel sorry for the kids in primary schools. In the whole of Zeeland, there’s one school building that I genuinely like. In Kloosterzande, they have rooms that are filled with little to no things. It’s all so restless and for me, it’s not a space where you can learn, where you can breathe, and for me, when you are a young child, you want to have this space around you to fill up with your dreams and all that you do.
H: And now, you are leading around these groups of children and explaining to them how the museum works. And when you get a group of children, what do you work with? What is it that you try to enlighten them with?
D: I’m just one of the people who guide kids around the Zeeuws Museum. And everybody does it their own way. What counts for me, is to trigger the kids to see a the things displayed in the museum not as a part of the past, but as a part of themselves and actually still valuable in the here and now. What I like the most is, of course, the tapestry room. So I always guide the children to the tapestry room. For me, that room represents a kind of a mythical Zeeland. And that’s where I always like to start with a group. I want the children to feel the struggle we have gone through to get where we are now.
There’s a lot of past that we incorporate in our daily life. Even the way in which we are women and men. And that’s what people don’t realize, we’re all concerned with the future, but we cannot go to the future, when we realize how difficult it is to change.
H: But there is, of course, always a binding factor between all times, in the sense that we are all human.
D: Yeah… but you know, I’m dying for the moment we can travel through time.
H: Do you think it will happen?
D: Well, I’m a little bit scared, but it would be very interesting! You are changed, but in certain way, you’re not changed. That’s what makes time-traveling to interesting. We still find mirrors, that aren’t mirroring ourselves. So you can look at me as an individual, but you can also look at me as a computer. I’m sitting here like this, because I was raised in certain way, I was influenced in a certain way, so what’s personality and what’s individuality? And how do you put yourself in time and space?
H: Yes, I see what you mean! But when I hear you talk, I find it very interesting that you went to the art academy, but you talk like a historian, in a way like a theologist. Do you see yourself as an artist?
D: Oh dear… well, I have a very special way of being an artist. I like to make things, but in a certain way, I don’t like things, because they’re a burden. So, every once in a while, I like to throw it all away or break it down. I destroy my paintings, I don’t let another one do it, they are destroyed by me.
H: But you destroyed your paintings?
H: You made the paintings yourself?
D: Yes. A painting has been on my wall for 10 years and I liked looking at it and it had value, but after a while it is done. Now it has to die, in a certain way. Of course, I work in a museum and what you can see it that everything we gather from all the former ages is mostly by accident.
But yes, I do like to make things and I do all of it at home. That’s why I was so anxious to come her and talk to you. I opened up a little space of what I do at home.
H: No, because you would never think of exposing your work in a museum? And also not in a gallery? Never?
D: I had some exhibitions in my early years, in the nineties in Fort Rammekens. It’s one of my favorite places. It’s a really remarkable place. So much has happened there.
H: And you exposed some of your paintings at Fort Rammekens?
D: Well, I made an army of sticks, an army of cherubs. It was really nice. They were very special, because the sunlight couldn’t reach the exposition. But it’s also gone.
H: But how do make art?
D: With paintings, I work with my hands. I put a large sheet of linen on the wall and then I work and push and do. And then I put in on a frame. But when I start out with something, I don’t know how it will turn out. But it’s all gone. It doesn’t exist anymore.
H: But what, at the time, did the paintings symbolize for you?
D: They were like an aquarium. It was like the people on the picture were getting out. I hope Freud isn’t here!
Eden van der Moere, Class of 2017, is a Literature and Theatre & Media studies major from Goes, The Netherlands.