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#17 From gallery to foundation

The exhibition 'Preview' with the presentations of Helen Sear (left) and Willem Popelier (right). photo Fieke van Berkom 2018

Speaking: Petra Cardinaal

In 2005 Petra Cardinaal took over Gallery Pennings from Harry Pennings. In blog #16, she explained how gradually the idea arose to choose a different form.

“We did much more than just sell art. Times change. Galleries have their own 'stable', Galerie Pennings did not have that much. After all, you cannot offer artists a salary. According to a study by NGA (the Dutch Gallery Association), 3% of the Dutch population buys art. People do look at art, but have little intention to buy art. Years ago I wrote in my diary: ‘Can't we find another way? How can we help artists on their way? How can we generate attention for art?’ There is a lot of attention for established art in museums. Little attention is paid to contemporary art. That is how the idea came about to create a place where visitors and artists can meet each other, with a gallery function.”

“In the vacant building Geldropseweg 63 we have organized an exhibition with work by Hans Biezen in the large room and by Noortje Haegens in the side room, as a test. That became such a success that we decided to move to this building in 2018. We have submitted a grant application to SCE (Stichting Cultuur Eindhoven) to develop into a platform for photography, video art and new media art. That request was granted and we were able to initiate the transition to the Pennings Foundation. Now we want to apply for a grant from Impulsgelden at the province. To be able to cover costs, we now need a subsidy, but in the future we want to rent out the additional space for meetings of companies, so that we can also derive income from it. And in the long run we also want to get income (more than cost-effective) from activities such as lectures, workshops, courses, the photo book fair and from selling artworks. But we do not want to charge an entrance fee for exhibitions. Only incidentally. We want to remain easily accessible for everyone."

The presentation of Martin and Inge Riebeek at the exhibition 'Preview'. photo Fieke van Berkom 2018

After the move to the new building, but still in the transition phase from gallery to foundation, ‘Preview’ was the first exhibition. It was a group exhibition of photographers and artists we want to showcase in the near future: Fieke van Berkom, Hans Biezen, Paul Bogaers, Theo Derksen, Erwin van Doorn & Inge Nabuurs, Claire Felicie, Anne Geene & Arjan de Nooy, Martijn van de Griendt, Noortje Haegens, Risk Hazekamp, Wiesje Peels, Willem Popelier, Martin & Inge Riebeek, Ilse Schrama, Helen Sear. A number of artists have already had a solo presentation by now, for a number of others a solo exhibition is planned. But of course there is also room for other art projects. "And we also want to make crossovers to other forms of visual art and even to the performing arts."

Sunday April 14 of this year (2019) we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Galerie Pennings and the official transition to a foundation, the Pennings Foundation. "I wanted to keep the name ‘Pennings’.” We organized the celebration together with the award ceremony of the Harry Pennings Prize. The Harry Pennings Prize was awarded for the fifth time. The winner was Marwan Bassiouni. Previous winners are: Renée van Trier (2007), Wytske van Keulen (2009), Awoiska van der Molen (2011) and Maroesjka Lavigne (2015).

After the speech, time for cake. Petra Cardinaal and Francoise Pennings, Sunday, April 14, 2018.

To mark the anniversary, a selection from the private collection of Harry and Françoise Pennings was exhibited, with works of art by, among others, Hans Biezen, Toos Nijssen, Charles Fréger, Charlotte Dumas, Marina Abramovic, Werner Mantz, Jan Dibbets, Mario Giacomelli, Ton Huijbers, Mischa Keijser and Wiesje Peels. "The collection is largely related to Harry's programming and shows how broad his interest was."

“Pennings Foundation is a new organization with the focus on the artist, the public and the sharing of knowledge. In fact, it is a new form for dealing with art in a different way. We offer a stage to photographers and artists who work with photography, video art or new media art. We want to broaden public interest in art. We do this by introducing broader programming, with both simple and complex exhibitions. We show photography as an image, but also photography as a medium in art. The new organisation implies a broadening of activities and an educational program as well. For the time being we focus on adults and school students. School students now come to visit exhibitions, but we also want to develop activities for them. For adults, we organized the course Closer to Art, which will start for the second time next fall. It is a course, where no prior knowledge is required. We also offer Storytelling workshops. And cyanotype workshops, one of the oldest photographic techniques. DuPho (Dutch Photography) has found a pied-à-terre in the south of the country at Pennings Foundation for its meetings. They also regularly open their workshops at Pennings to non-members. And of course we will continue existing activities. We organize more and more lectures, we offer portfolio reviews twice a year and in the spring the photo book fair is on the program again. It is a nice fair where people like to meet. People with specialized interest come to visit, it is a niche."

The presentation of Martijn van de Griendt at the exhibition 'Preview'. photo Fieke van Berkom 2018

Expertise center

“We will soon receive 5,500 books on photography from a private collection. For this donation it was important that we received the status of cultural ANBI foundation and that has now been honored.” What is special about this library is that it contains almost all photo books issued by Dutch photographers (and artists who use photography as a medium) and with that the collection provides a fine overview of the tradition of storytelling in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is well known for its photo books! “With the arrival of this collection, the Pennings Foundation will also become an expertise center for photography. Anyone who wants to get inspiration for his own story or who wants to do research will soon be welcome, as soon as the library is installed. Provisions still have to be made for that library. Not only do bookcases need to be built, we also want to make an online connection of this library to other photography libraries in the Netherlands, and that requires a subsidy.”

“There still needs a lot to be done. ‘The harder you row, the more water against the boat’ was a statement by Jan Buster. This is so true. The team of volunteers is steadily increasing, so that we can spread the work. By now we have reached a wide audience, from young to old, from the man in the street to the art connoisseur."

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