Natuurbad ‘De Biltsche Duinen‘
When in 1933 in the village of Bilthoven the Netherlands, a Natural Water Swimming Park opened, it soon became a national leisure attraction. School children from the larger cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht arrived for a day out by train or bus. On offer; a huge lido complex situated amongst Pine trees, covered in dune sand with several graded swimming basins including a deep diving pool, a ladies only pool and a large children's pool with water slides. Also there was a large canoe park, play areas and a restaurant with 3 terraces and on a hot summer day it could easily host up to 9000 sun seekers.
I was one of them.
This magical place was closed in 1982 and is now a golf course. It has become the subject of the work that is currently on my studio walls. I am making a series of paintings which reflect a collective memory.
‘a good story knows more than its teller’
Brittleness of time, distance of space
I am focussing on the act of memory as the reality no longer exists-only a vagueness with highlights shared by many in its generality ; colour, activities, territory, feelings.
The wife of a former ‘Bad Meester’ described the entire territory as resembling a ‘tin of spinach’
At the source of the natural water, bags of Copper Sulphate were placed to chlorinate the water and the interaction between that chemical and the pine needles that fell in the water , made all of us village children (who used the pool all summer) have green hair. No amount of washing removed this effect until well into the autumn term. Many black and white photos exist and some books have been published with stories of this magical place, I am sourcing all to build a series of works that represent more than just my memory.
The whole Park was 27 Hectares, had 300 changing rooms and the canoe circuit was 600 metres long and 10 meters wide and wound its way around a large island, making it adventurous.
Between 80.000 and 150.000 ltr of crystal clear natural water was pumped in every hour.
The canoe park was surrounded by beautiful trees and up to 32 canoes could continuously wind their way through this pine wood.Some harsh winters the area was transformed in to a skating ring.