Located northwest of Amsterdam (Netherlands), the municipality of Zaanstad for a part is rather urbanized and industrial, but another part is still quite rural. There you will find villages with old characteristic houses, surrounded by a green meadowy area.
Westzaan is such a community.
It has a virtually unknown hidden secret: a wonderful sculpture garden, created by one of its inhabitants.
Life and works
Klaas van den Brink (1930-2009) was a market trader selling fabrics. This profession earned him the nickname Lappenklaas ("lappen" is a dutch equivalent for "fabrics").
photo of the artist from the family album,
courtesy of the family
He had a house along the road that from the village center runs south along a many kilometers long straight line which is typical for this landscape.
Behind the house there was a quite large piece of land, where van den Brink planted trees and shrubs, to transform it into a pleasant wooded area.
Klaas van den Brink was a creative man and although he had no training whatsoever as an artist, he had an artistic talent, as this self portrait shows:
courtesy of the family
In 1980 he began making sculptures, mosaic decorations and various creative structures he displayed in the area behind the house.
The sculptures were made by applying cement to an iron frame and modelling the concrete into all kind of impersonations.
Many of his sculptures have a rather airy appearance and some of them are shown as if fixed in a movement or are positioned in groups, remarkable features for a self-taught artist.
Van den Brink has been doing a lot of mosaic works, decorating some of his sculptures with small pieces of coloured glass, as the pictures show.
The garden also has stand alone mosaic decorated panels. Van den Brink would use all kinds of small colourful items and gadgets in the mosaics, which he as a market trader easily and cheaply could obtain in large quantities.
Large parts of the garden's surface have been covered mosaic-like with large plates.
The garden is divided into several sections and one of these, pictured above, is kind of an "inner court" with a (fake) well.
The wall of this court has partly been made from bottles walled into concrete, its stony parts having single round mosaics with small colourful items.
In 2000, due to an accident, van den Brink broke his hip, and he had to discontnue almost all of his artistic pursuits. He sadly died in dcember 2009 and thereafter the garden is being cared for by the family.
* Eric Denig, Fantastisch Erfgoed (Fantastic Heritage), Stichting de DonderbergGroep (Dutch foundation about follies), 2005, pp 42-43
* Article on SPACES website
* Pictures of the site in my Flickr-album
Klaas van den Brink
1551 RR Westzaan, Netherlands
closed for the public