Movements of the Soul Translated into Ceramic: Manon de Vlieger

Interview by Asia Leonardi for the Carl Kruse Arts Blog

Amsterdam is the motherland of artists. Among its streets, its bridges, and its canals, a century-old history reverberates, interwoven on the concepts of tolerance, resistance to authoritarian domains, spontaneous expression, freedom. It is for this reason that this city offers a combination of the most sophisticated creative emergencies and the most avant-garde ones, making it a safe place where the most varied, the most interesting artistic profiles are invented and re-invented, full of creative expression. This is the city of Manon de Vlieger, a young woman who enjoys expressing her spiritual dimension through ceramics. Since graduating with honors from the Artemis Academy in Amsterdam, Manon has had a great interest in materials, shapes, and colors. Her approach to design and her love for trend influences is instinctive and endless. Her creative fury, when working as an interior designer and consultant, strives to embrace the identity, history, and values expressed by the person in front of her; when instead Manon carves out time for herself, she gives life and matter to her passion and lets the movements of her soul translate into the creation of ceramics. I had the immense pleasure of speaking with Manon, and of hearing her story and her message.

When did you start this activity? And where do you get your inspiration from?

I started in 2015. I worked for a fashion brand but I found the job too meaningless for me. I quit and began making ceramics as an exploration for myself; to learn new crafts and processes. Though to be honest this has always interested me. Ceramics is slow living. Impossible to hurry the clay as it takes time to give it form, let it dry, fire, trim, glaze and one last time into the oven. Slow living.

My inspiration comes from little things, art, cooking, furniture, history,
photography, etc. Layers inspire me, in nature or on a picture, even in textile I can find some inspiration for my work.

I imagine that it gives a sense of tranquility, like an immersion in a peaceful dimension where each movement is natural, but I think that you have also to concentrate on the shape that you want to give to your work. What do you feel
when you’re alone with your creativity?

Most of the time I feel free, this is my happy place. I can create without focusing and concentrating (after 5 years) so my hands and mind are flowing together, and out of this duet comes my work.

I see that you are an interior designer. How do you combine all these activities? Is pottery an activity of your free time?

Pottery is my passion project, I create it in my free time. In my work as an interior designer, my pottery inspires me. And the other way around. When I’m busy with my work and I do not feel at ease you can see it in my pottery work. So sometimes it’s hard to combine both passions. Pottery will always be my passion and not my work. I need to feel free to create so I don’t want to be dependent on what I sell.

My last question is: do you perceive the time you dedicate to pottery as a time in which you’re working, or as a time that you give all to yourself?

I create it for myself. I love to work with clay, every piece passes my hands multiple times. No vase is the same and no bowl is perfect. Every plate or cup has its own energy. I think my ceramic work wouldn’t be so charming if it felt like work. I think I would make it too perfect if that were the case and I love the fact that my work is a bit wabi-sabi. Every piece unique.

Manon’s words are sweet and full of meaning: expressions of her artistic soul, just like her works in ceramics. An expression of life matured in movements and shapes, which becomes concrete through the touch of her fingers. I am sure that Manon has so much to tell, that she will make her life a work of art, slowly, just like modeling a cup, a plate, a vase. A training ground for the serenity of the human soul.

Carl Kruse Art Blog Homepage:
Contact: carl AT carlkruse DOT com
Other articles by Asia Leonardi include exposes of Simonetta Vespucci, Charlotte Salomon, and Steve McCurry.
Carl Kruse on Youtube.

World of WearableArt: Blurring Boundaries in The Art World

by Hazel Anna Rogers for the Carl Kruse Arts Blog

There is often a perceived disparity between the words “fashion” and “art.” Many people fall at the feet of, say, a Gauguin, a Turner, or a Matisse, but upon hearing the word “fashion” quickly recede into their boots, or worse, scorn and sneer its name. I understand (I think) where they are coming from, though I certainly disagree with such a reaction. Fashion has been given the name of Primark, Topshop, New Look, and other such enterprises. It has been awarded characteristics of triviality, frivolity, and superficiality as a result of its mainstream-media nature. But, while we don’t all paint or create art, we all wear clothes, and this is at least part of the reason for the popularity of pursuing fashion trends and observing the landscape of designers and seamsters. We are all at least somewhat picky about what we choose to wear every day, even if only for how comfortable and hard-wearing our clothing is. Fashion affects all of us. It can mean the difference between feeling good or feeling down when one leaves the house, or between being successful or not at a job interview. We can make statements about ourselves with our clothes, bring our internal sentiments to the fore with our exterior appearance. We can create art with our clothes, art just as valid as that on the walls of galleries. And that is what the renowned design competition the World of WearableArt (WOW) attempts to do.

In 1987, the little city of Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand hosted the first awards show in what would become one of the most innovative and flamboyant competitions in the world. The event was held outside a small restored cottage under a marquee dripping with rain. The mastermind behind this competition is Susie Moncrieff, inspired by a similar concept she had seen in Auckland years prior. Her idea has bloomed exponentially since that first show, where around 200 visitors came to watch, to over 60,000 every year at the event in the New Zealand capital of Wellington, as well as a permanent WOW Museum in Nelson where WOW found its humble beginnings.

WOW is not just a fashion show. It is theater, with all its excesses and vices, a show encompassing design with ecstatic movement and vibrant imagery. But what of the art? I must say it is most difficult to describe the pieces themselves, which are crafted by designers from over 40 countries and encompass the most exquisitely romantic of wearable designs to the most outlandish one can imagine. And often, the most impressive of the designs come from the least thinkable of places; in 2019, the winner of the Supreme WOW Award was Rinaldy Yunardi of Jakarta, whose design, “The Lady Warrior,” was constructed from recycled paper made into rope which he wove tightly together to form a gloriously regal outfit in cool golden and beige shades. The dress is brilliantly balanced in its symmetry and grace and is equally resonant with classical Indonesian influences as modernist structural brutalism. It’s beautiful, strong, yet fragile.

Carl Kruse Art Blog.  Image of The Last Lady Warrior - WOW - Fashion

The Lady Warrior by Rinaldy Yunardi. Photo: The Last Fashion Bible

Many of the pieces that emerge from the WOW show are far more sombre than this example of Rinaldy’s work. Some are so very nightmarish that they could only have come from the deep, dark depths of one’s imagination. Take ‘NightWraith’, the 2019 piece by Australian artist Ildy Izso, aptly modelled in the ‘mythology section’ of the competition. It’s a pure masterpiece in black, evoking such characters as Medusa and Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent. Despite its elegantly woven bodice and ornately jeweled eye-mask, reminiscent of the masqueraded balls of 16th Century Renaissance Italy, the piece is fantastically disturbing. Great spikes emerge through the shoulder-blades of the piece as though they had pushed through the skin of this mythological beast. Writhing snake-like spirals shoot from the head; long, Edward-Scissorhand-like fingers are poised in sophisticated demonism; metal chains choke the corset like makeshift ribs, and latex covers any visible skin, leaving the figure without a mouth. Yet, this piece is so stylish it almost hurts to look at it. The lace shoulder-cover is exquisitely delicate, the choker wondrously bejewelled. I love it, and I would even go so far as to say that I would wear it, albeit without the latex mouth covering (I think I’d prefer to breath).

Nightwraith by Ildy Izso

“Wearability” is a primary part of the judging process in WOW. Each piece is considered for 1) Its health and safety (i.e., can the model breathe and see, is the piece comfortable to wear), 2) The quality of construction – it should be immaculately created, and not inclined to fall apart, 3) The conception of the piece must meet the brief of the section theme it has been entered into, and entrants must explain their conception at length, 4) It must be (surprise) innovative. This is obviously of utmost importance – the entrant must create a piece that is completely original, whether in perspective, material, execution, or all of the above. Many entrants are increasingly focusing on environmental awareness in their works, as we see in Rinaldy’s piece. Fashion as a whole is gradually working towards sustainable work practices, in material sourcing, worker’s rights, and manufacturing methods, and I think that such a creative execution of these values in the form of the WOW competition is a brilliant way to bring such matters to the fore, and to prove that being environmentally friendly does not cost us style.

Let us end this article with one of the most astonishing designs I think I have ever seen (though, in terms of wearability, I’m not sure I could pull this one off). The piece I’m talking about is Jack Irving’s “Sea Urchin Explosion” of the 2019 competition. This United Kingdom designer has created works for the likes of Lady Gaga, and this piece brilliantly demonstrates his designing prowess. “Sea Urchin Explosion” is genius. A perfect blend of fashion and the natural landscape, an eruption of huge, vibrant red spines bursting forth from the human body. It does look like a sea urchin, an enormous, angry beast, perfectly symmetrical and blissfully satisfying to look at.

Carl Kruse Art Blog - Sea urchin Explosion by Jack Irving - at the WOW festival

Sea Urchin Explosion by U.K. Designer Jack Irving at WOW

These works make me fall in love with fashion, and to me deem it a worthy art form to contend with my love for classical art. They inspire me to play more with my appearance, and to never doubt the impact that fashion can have in the art world.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go and put on the brightest clothes I have in my wardrobe, even if all I do in them is sit at home and write this article.


Find the blog homepage at
Contact: carl AT carlkruse DOT com
The last blog post was on neighboring Australia’s Museum of New and Old Art.
Other articles by Hazel Anna Rogers include Van Gogh’s Chair and When Did we Stop Criticizing Art?
Carl Kruse is on Saatchi Art.

Museum of Old and New Art

by Fraser Hibbitt for the Carl Kruse Arts Blog

Photos from MONA, Carl Kruse and Blooloop

In 2006 the Moorilla Museum of Antiquities closed for a huge revamping and after the input of $75 million and five years of construction the Museum of Old and New Art emerged (MONA). Located in Holbart, Tasmania, the museum has since conversed with the world of art in an idiosyncratic and spectacular way. 

David Walsh. Photo: Blooloop.

The man behind the mission, David Walsh, made his fortune as a gambler. When MONA opened he would go on to describe it as a “subversive Disneyland.” The eclectic collection gathered in the museum are tied by the twin themes of sex and death. Ancient art, such as the mummy of Ta-Sheret-Min, resides close by the famed “Cloaca”: a series of vessels conceived by the Belgian artist Wilm Devoye that holds a functioning digestive tract. The vessels are fed in the late morning; excreting occurs by early afternoon.

The museum is statement, not of high art or the understanding of such, but of a playful experience and attendance to art. The account of the construction of MONA highlights this dynamic that the museum is trying to communicate:

“This is a mistake. People will think you don’t know what you’re doing, like you’re a rich man and you’ve just got all your toys around you – your big gallery, your tennis court. You won’t be taken seriously.” And David said, “Exactly.”

Carl Kruse Arts Blog - MONA from the Sea
Approaching MONA from the sea. Tasmania. Photo: MONA.

Statements from MONA radiate this playful irreverence: “Bars, café, restaurants and cemetery on site,” and again when describing what MONA is: “a museum, or something.” Of course, there is a seriousness to this mask of indifference. It is an invitational strategy; everyone is welcome to find and experience this strange world.

The Ferry from Holbart to MONA – Sheep as Seats. Photo: Carl Kruse

Things become clearer when we think about the space made to house David’s vision. He says the best way to approach the museum is by sea: “to ascend from the water as the ancient Greeks did to go to their temples.” There the visitor is met with a single-story entry, nothing overwhelming, until inside a spiral staircase takes them down to three large labyrinthine spaces. There are no windows, there is only the stony silence of the descent.

Descending staircase into MONA. Photo Blooloop.

It is all for the experience of viewing art, of creating a space where the visitor can give themselves to the spectacle and possible meaning of art. David fashioned his museum in direct opposition to what he had found in other museums – the building shouldn’t dwarf the visitor nor impose its stateliness upon them but facilitate the interaction between the visitor and the art.

Visitors are recommended the ‘O’ app, either provided or available for download on their phones. The ‘O’ app was introduced so that visitors wouldn’t have to spend time reading the small prints on plaques by each art piece, instead they can immerse themselves freely. The visitor does not need to feel “that they haven’t appreciated the piece or understood it without the plaque.” The ‘O’ app has a menu where the viewer can learn about the art under the title ‘Art Wank’; it can also recommend what food to try and where the toilets are. 

“Besides Myself” by James Turrell at MONA.

David Walsh’s “anti-museum” theme has proved something in its wake; the attraction of, to use Richard Flanagan’s words, “the ultimate senseless chance.” It this direct wish of Walsh’s to “piss of the academics” which has found such exceeding popularity – in 2015 MONA was ranked as the world’s best modern art gallery, above London’s Tate modern. It is one of Carl Kruse’s favorite museums in the world.

It is not that we will find all the pieces on display as beautiful or even remotely interesting; we may even be repulsed. It is this rapid juxtaposition of chance that offers up this experience of being face to face with something of life, something like a drunken night filled with half-memories and unexpected turns. MONA is a playful provocateur entering into the high-minded conversation about art.

The provocateur broaches the subject from a different point of view. Most people attending, it may be presumed, have visited another art gallery with its prestigious formal ordering of art. Any ordering of art tells us something of how we should think about art. MONA has opted for the fully immersive, nonchalant, experience; it may be anti-museum, but it is not anti-art – It is asking us to speak about it, to experience it, in a different way.

Carl Kruse Arts Blog - The Snake by Sydney Nolan in Tasmania, Australia.

Sydney Nolan’s “THE SNAKE” at MONA.

Walsh’s playground doesn’t require us to have done our homework or that we understand the cultural and historical significance of a certain piece; and, if it is culturally significant, that we too find it astonishing. MONA finds much to say in the playground itself without caring if there is anything meaningful to say about the equipment. It is answering a need for collective experience in a reality unlike our own, something like a ritual.

In 2018, Walsh spent a further $32 million on a new wing in the MONA complex. It was named Pharos. This section has been spoken about as, in some ways, the antithesis to the MONA. Walsh wanted to create a “changeless thing, a totem, a legacy.” As the name suggests (Pharos being one of the ancient wonders of the world – the Alexandrian lighthouse) it is a beacon of light, but it also acts as a procession; a ritualistic walk for the un-believer.

Carl Kruse Blog - The Topmb of the Kamizakes in Pharos, MONA
Inside Pharos – the “Memorial to Sacred Wind or the Tomb of Kamikaze” by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely. What initially appears to be a pile of scrap lunges to life unexpectedly and moves about the room. Photo: Broadsheet.

Walsh’s idea to suffuse this section with assemblages that will never be moved has its reasons. Basing this conception on ancient rituals where it seems the idea is to “merely walk around them,” Walsh has created this space so the visitor can commune with their inner selves. It brings to the foreground what the museum is about: sex and death. If the rest of MONA is this chance, transient, sex, then Pharos is the acknowledgment and appreciation of changeless death.

It is with Pharos that we are aware of the magnitude of the MONA enterprise. It is not merely an eclectic arrangement of contemporary and old art, but a monument towards why and how art is created. It is a space which confronts the visitor with something of the wonder in which art finds its source.


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Carl Kruse Arts Homepage at
Contact: carl AT carlkruse DOT com
The last blog post was on Simonetta Vespucci.
Other articles by Fraser Hibbitt include the Art of Journaling and Google Glass.
Carl Kruse is also on Hacker Noon – Kruse