18 March 2011


Today I want to tell you a little story as a prelude to a project I want to start soon. When I was ten, I received a comic album by Henk Kuijpers, which tells the story of a young and adventurous Dutch investigator called Franka. Through her investigations she had made powerful enemies and, as a consequence, the airplane she’s travelling with is sabotaged and she is plunged into the ocean and swept ashore on a seemingly uninhabited tropical island. I won’t tell the story of her subsequent adventures, but instead concentrate on a particular scene in the story that I have been drawn to for nearly 30 years. Exploring the island, Franka discovers a little lagoon in the middle of the jungle, with a waterfall, flowers, fish and a beautiful bird. She lies down in the water and floats for a while, thinking that this is even nicer than she imagined. For some reason this image has always attracted and soothed me. Sometimes when I’m restless and find it hard to fall asleep, I try to imagine that I’m Franka floating in the lagoon.

The reason why this image has come back to me at this point is connected to my recent trip to Thailand. One day I participated in a boat trip to a place they call the Emerald Cave (Tham Morakot) on Ko Mook island. To get to the cave (which is more a crater than a cave) you have to swim approximately 80 meters (87 yards) through a pitch-dark tunnel with bats. Once you get out of the tunnel, you’re in a secret lagoon with shallow water, a small sandy beach and towering cliffs on all sides. The only way to get in is to swim through the tunnel or fly there. While admiring the view, I got a bit chilly as the air was cooler in the crater and my clothes were wet. I decided to get back in the water to warm myself, and suddenly I had a notion of lying down in the water to float for a while. That way I could admire the surrounding cliffs and sky without straining my neck. It wasn’t until much later that I realised what I’d done. I’d been Franka for a while. For some reason this thought really cheers me, and I’ve decided that I’m going to make a Franka wall quilt with this scene to remind me of my special moment.

© Henk Kuijpers 1979, Interpresse and Carlsen/if 1981

11 March 2011

Sà-wàt-dee kâ

... is hello in Thai. I’ve just returned from a 3-week-holiday in Ko Lanta, Thailand. It’s been one of the best holidays ever, and I was so sad to have to return to reality. I’ve seen and experienced so much that I don’t even know where to start. I’ve recorded some of it in the journal I made and brought with me, but most pages are still unfinished. The journal will keep me busy for months, which is great, because that way I can keep the memory of our trip alive for longer. I’ll share some pages later when I feel they’re more finished.

Here are some of the things I fell in love with:

Swept ashore by the tides.

There are so many beautiful flowers to enjoy, but the simple lelawadee is one of my
favourites. It has a lovley scent that is particularly noticeable in the warm and dark evenings.

Garden of Eden
We stayed at hotel Lanta Resort on Phra Ae beach, which has a lovely garden. 
The garden was home to a great number of different animals, including 
geckos and other lizards, birds, butterflies, frogs and even a snake.

 Phra Ae
This is the northern end of Phra Ae beach. I love the colour combination of white 
sand, emerald sea and blue sky. The same colour combination appears in many boats.

Fishing boat.
I love the colourful fishing and long-tail boats. After dark you can see the fishing boats like a 
string of light along the horizon. When the weather is hazy, they lit up part of the sky too.

Tropical thunderstorms
We experienced a few tropical thunderstorms during our stay. During one, we were 
having lunch huddled in a little bamboo hut with no walls. The first gust of wind half drenched 
us and blew away all the paper napkins, but the friendly staff did their best to shelter us.

Crabs, part I. 
We discovered some intriguing patterns in the sand and figured out that they were 
created by crabs. There were a lot of crabs around, which gave me a chance to study them 
both at a distance and up close. They’re like little aliens. Very funny and fascinating.

Crabs, part II. 
These patterns were also created by crabs. They reminded me of crop circles. 
Every crab had its own style.

These little fellas have stolen my heart. I miss them already.

To my surprise, I developed an addiction to snorkelling. I just loved the weightlessness 
of floating on the surface and looking down into a different world and its inhabitants. 
The fishes I saw were amazing. Striped, spotted and chequered in every colour 
imaginable. I loved it when I could swim into a whole school of fish and be one of them.