The first object I ever made was a
multi-tensioned, multi-coloured knitted woollen scarf. I was
then four. Invention only truly became part of my consciousness
some twenty years later. Travel overseas gave me a real sense of
independence and time to make art.
The ‘Glory Box’ is an attempt to imagine my parent’s
experience of emigrating from the Netherlands. With two small
children, my parents Adrianus and Johanna Cornelisse finally
chose Tasmania to live their new lives. It promised temperate
weather and freedom from unemployment, poverty, overcrowding
and the threat of another invasion, this time from Russia.
My mother came from Vagel, in the south of Holland and my
father from Amsterdam in the north. My mother rarely mentioned
wartime Holland. I do know she lived there the entire time the
war was on. My father, however, did talk about his wartime
experiences. He was chosen, in preference to his father, to
become a slave worker in Germany in a munitions factory for
the duration of the war. Growing up with dad meant a lot
listening to stories—varied versions and retold. Hitler became
to my mind some kind of distant relative.
My work for this exhibition has evolved via the need to tell
my story, my version of the war—trying to see it through my
parent’s eyes. I see my parents emigrating from Holland to
Australia as the ‘War Hero’ and ‘Bride’.
The blanket used to create ‘War Hero’ came as a protective
cover for the kiln I bought some ten years ago. I don’t know
its owner, but it has faded green. The worn and patched
appearance has seen dirt, blood and the devastation of war.
The silk and linen of ‘Bride’ is the young wife dutifully
following her beloved husband to a new land.
The ceramic works are the Van Gogh’s ‘Potato Eaters’ and
the survivors of the war—people eating only potatoes or tulip
bulbs just to survive. The glamorised version of a box ‘Potato
Box’ is the hope I have for our haven.
Hermie Cornelisse 2002