When we live in a society with so much abundance, how do we recognize what is truly important? How can we learn from our surroundings in order to value the materials we use in our everyday lives more deeply?

Earth Alchemy – 15 Years of Digging brings together the work of Atelier NL into a single exhibition in Museum van Bommel van Dam in Venlo that showcases the narratives of the earth and all that it produces. For more than a decade Nadine Sterk and Lonny van Ryswyck have been engaging tirelessly with local communities as a means to re-establish the vital connection between people and the world we live in.

For instance by collecting buckets of soil from 80 farmers in the Noordoostpolder to make ceramics or by analysing wild sands across Europe in order to make glass. They learned about place from soils gathered by people from all across the globe and even planted trees with the local community to understand how forests are essential in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Through the thorough analysis and processing of clay, sand, and wood from varying perspectives the work of Atelier NL now comes together in an exhibition that focuses on the fundamental knowledge of making and the link between raw materials, their origins, and possibilities for the future.

About the Artists

Nadine Sterk (1977, Gorinchem) and Lonny van Ryswyck (1978, Tegelen) studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven (2007), where they now teach. In a former church in the same city they established Atelier NL. Sterk and Van Ryswyck present lectures and workshops worldwide where they share their methodology that concentrates on raw materials, responsible production practices, and good craftsmanship. They have exhibited in London, Paris, New York, Shenzhen and Chiang Mai, among other places, but this is their largest exhibition to date. The exhibition at Museum van Bommel van Dam is particularly special as it takes place near Lonny’s hometown, bringing their work full circle; drawn from the clay of their origin and their own personal connection to place.