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#19 The gallery as a Work LAB

Speaking: Wiesje Peels


Wiesje Peels and Steffen Maas during their Work LAB at Galerie Pennings, March 2014. photo Joep Eijkens

In March 2014 Wiesje Peels (1975) had the opportunity to set up a Work LAB at Galerie Pennings. A unique opportunity!


A retrospective in which she tells how she came into contact with Galerie Pennings, how the contacts lead to a Work LAB and how the contacts remained afterwards.


Photographer Wiesje Peels is an autonomous photographer and also a teacher at the Fontys Teacher Training at Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Tilburg. She teaches ‘Image Issue’ among other things. What steps do you take to make a design in order to create an image or an object? This is done by questions such as ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’? With second-year students she just visited the Graduation Show during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. The students of the Design Academy showed designs and projects that were created by the same questions and that fits in nicely with her teaching method.


In 1998, Wiesje graduated from AKV | St. Joost in Breda. Harry Pennings had seen the graduation exhibition and was impressed by her photos. He invited Wiesje for an exhibition in the stairwell of the gallery, where a part of the graduation work could be shown.


Invitation for the exhibition of Wiesje Peels at Galerie Pennings in 2004

"My graduation work consisted of two series: Pappa (Daddy), a portrait of my father, in color, made with a technical camera, and In de buurt van water (Near water) in black and white, about marines on Texel, among other subjects." She made photos at night, with a Technica. She made three booklets with the progress of the graduation project as subject. The black and white series was on show in the stairwell in 1999, together with the booklets. In 2004, in a solo exhibition, she showed the series of color photos about her father as the clown and magician Enrico Magnetico. Her father had a regular job as a technician at Philips. In the weekends he performed as a one man circus, Theatro Picolini, at Center Parcs, campsites and healthcare institutions.


"I was one of the first to start making booklets during education." She made the booklets for In de buurt van water together with a designer and a printer. The booklets were printed at Mart Spruyt in Amsterdam. The contact with Mart Spruyt was the result of the paid assignments she carried out, in the graduation phase, together with Mischa Keijser. They took photos for annual reports from Wärtsilä (formerly Lips), which were printed by Mart Spruyt.

During her studies she had done an internship at publisher DuoDuo in Rotterdam. As an internship assignment, together with Frank van Delft, she made a photo book about locks in the Netherlands.


Portfolio of Wiesje Peels, published by Galerie Pennings in 2004.

With a starting stipend she planned to follow with her camera a young captain, sailing on the largest bulk ship of the world, in Rotterdam and also in India, where he came from. She traveled with two friends. However, the project ended prematurely, because the atmosphere in the company in which the young captain was living in his hometown in India became hostile. Wiesje then fled with her friends and they started traveling. Along the way they met a circus. They filmed, photographed and interviewed the circus company. And that resulted in her photo series Great Bombay Circus. And from there the "Mimus, series was created.

Harry Pennings saw her series of circus children in India and advised her to watch movies by Fellini, in particular ‘La Strada’ (1954), and take a look at photo books such as ‘The Circus’ (1958) by Bruce Davidson. She experienced this as an incentive: “I felt strengthened. It is right what I am doing."