Maria Van Kesteren died peacefully on April 29th. She was for many years, as well as Holland’s most celebrated woodturner, a co-director with Hyke Koopmans of a pioneering gallery called Galerie Kapelhuis, in Amersfoort, which closed in 1992.
The dialogue of ideas between the British and Dutch across art/craft/design was a strong aspect of the modern/postmodern 1980s. From the beginnings of Marsden Woo (initially Barrett Marsden), Maria was one of the gallery's contracted artists, 1998 - 2019.
Born in 1933, Maria trained in Utrecht in the late fifties with Henk van Trierum, the pre-eminent woodturner of the time. She had her own workshop in Hilversum since 1968.
The process of woodturning is absolutely one of subtraction, the removal of surface to reach the right form. Maria made much of the possibility of the unexpected interior. The subtle variations of her pieces were very engaging to touch. The double venture of the box form – lid and container, and the soft clack of their coming together – was a focus of her interests. ‘Specially the box gives one freedom to express: to create a tension between open and closed, between in and out, between spontaneity and reserve, between openness and disguise.’
An exhaustive exploration of the nuance and detail of hollow circular forms, her bowls and boxes, engaged her for five decades. As a designer she also explored ceramics: funerary urns for the Tichelaar factory in Makkum, and glass for industrial production.
Her last project was to assist the curation of her retrospective exhibition Form Variations, at the Gemeente Museum in Den Haag, that ran from March to August 2019.
I am so very glad that I was able to visit her once more while this was in preparation, in her remarkable old house and studio in Hilversum, in December 2019.
9 May 2020