The perishable and the permanent

  • Tjalling Mulder / Fine Art / Honours Programme

Tjalling Mulder graduated from the Bachelor in Fine Art and from the Honours Programme in June 2013. Tjalling worked a lot with ceramics and other, perishable materials. During the Honours Programme, he investigated different strategies for exhibiting and conserving his own work, and reflected on the role of the process of decay.


Research for the Honours Programme
Tjalling specialised in the use of organic materials that decompose naturally. ‘I’m interested in the concept of motion: a work of art undergoes a process, meaning it’s in a constant state of change. This became the starting point for my research for the Honours Programme, during which I reflected over and over again on my own art work.’


Mould, bacteria and cadavers
‘I started by analysing how restorers manage to restore and preserve organic materials, what rules they are bound by, and how those rules might influence the preservation of my own work. Next I researched how established artists deal with perishable materials and what measures they take when exhibiting their works. I focussed on two specific artists: Dieter Roth and Damien Hirst. Roth makes biodegradable works from foodstuffs and Hirst works a lot with the preservative formaldehyde and with dead animal cadavers. Whereas Roth allows mould and bacteria to change his work irreversibly, Hirst refreshes his works when the rotting starts to becomes visible. I use both of these strategies in my own work.’


‘While researching the use of organic materials, I also specialised in the art of ceramics. What happens if both materials – the perishable and the permanent – are combined? Based on my own objects and my ideas on the preservation and care of these objects, I reached the conclusion that clear manuals and documentation are essential for exhibiting and preserving my materials. The research for the Honours Programme helped me to better identify the qualities and weaknesses in my artistic work.’


Take a look at the Honours Programme research projects