Pieter Derksen, Artist and Reclusive living in Stokkum, a small village on the German border in The Netherlands.
The first time I met Pieter in 2012, was when photographing the medieval castle Huis Bergh in s-Heerenberg, The Netherlands.
Pieter was wearing an oversized coat as he stood next to his bicycle, drawing the castles surrounds early in the morning, hanging off his bike were some plastic bags with his pencils and paper.
I introduced myself to this shy gentleman, and we had our first conversation about the beautiful morning light, the scenic castle, his drawing, painting and my photography.
Now 6 years later, I bumped into him again during another stay in the area.
He remembered "dat meisje" ( in English "that girl" ), after a long chat I asked if he would allow me to photograph him in his home. He smiled and said that he would be honoured.
We made an appointment and he told me to 'come to the back and ring the bell'- I had heard from locals that Pieter was a bit reclusive, so I was prepared for something different.
Pieters house is in Stokkum, a small village next to the bigger town of s-Heerenberg, just a stones throw from the German border- it's a beautiful, rural, undulating and quiet area.
From the road you can't see Pieters house, I entered an old farm gate with a small path to the back, where I found the bell he mentioned.
Pieter was born in the house in 1945 and remained living there after his parents passed away.
Walking into his home made me want to find out more about this quietly spoken, artistic, very polite, and intelligent man. He studied art, specialising in Landscapes.
He lives by himself, owns no car, tv, radio or computer, the house has electricity but there was minimal lighting.
Every room looked like an artistic collection of (some very old) newspaper articles, art books, glass ,crockery etc. Most of them he'd found at markets in the area. Everything was neatly stacked and displayed.
He invite me to join him in his painting room where he was in the middle of writing a letter, this is where he usually sits and paints his drawings.
He is well known for the paintings of many local landscapes, and buildings.
Pieter said he draws away from people- he finds inspiration in the solitude.
He doesn't believe in traditional medicine and has his own ways of healing. On his kitchen bench he kept different types of rock. "I sleep with them in my hands, they help for pain and make me feel better", he added.
He was sad about the fact that he finds it harder to draw these days. "My hands shake, sometimes I take a herb for this and it seems to improve for a short time".
There was just one light bulb and some natural light coming into the room. "I don't need reading glasses I still have very good eyesight".
Nearly every room was decorated like a Gallery with wall- to- wall paintings, some his work some from a friend .
His love for the "Arts" is clearly visible with the way he spoke about the pieces.
His garden was very "natural" and he had been sweeping the dirt paths around his property that morning.
He showed me his plums from his own plum tree, an oil that a friend made for his skin, and the grave of a pet cat who had died a few years ago.
The grave of his beloved cat still made him a bit teary.
The garden was scattered with little arrangements of his treasures.
His bicycle, on which we can see him ride around the area, was parked against a tree.
The old shed, with only draped cloth as an entrance door and plastic sheet walls, was such a beautiful building in a strange sort of way, the way the light was falling through the holes in the roof, the smell of dirt floors, and wood fires being burnt.
Again paintings, a wall drawing he hadn't finished painting, and collectables on display everywhere.
This area was frequently used and visited by an artist friend.
Pieter told me how he a long time ago went to a Monastery to become a Monk, but felt like he didn't fit in with the other's. Instead, he spent most of his time at the Monastery roaming the building and the halls and admiring the art works.
We took the last images of the day in front of his amazing property, spending some time with this incredible person has left a big impression on me.
I hope Pieter will stay well, and we will be able to continually see him on his bike and his little stool somewhere in the area painting.
Pieter came to visit my husband and I a few days later ( this doesn't happen very often according to the neighbourhood! ), to have a look at the images I took, he was pleased and happy for me to tell his story and show his photographs.
SADLY PIETER PASSED AWAY IN DECEMBER 2019 AT THE AGE OF 74.
Pieter ( Peeker) Derksen
by Ingrid Hendriksen
I would love to hear your feedback ! (you can do that as a comment if you like)
Some more of Pieters work ;