Kiki van Eijk: Intuitive Nature
Artist and designer Kiki van Eijk weaves a sense of wonder into her work, infusing everyday objects with something more than its intended purpose and inviting us into her rich imagination.
The thread between art and life is a seamless one in Kiki van Eijk’s artistic practice. Her creative process is intuitive and deeply connected to drawing and sketching, observing and imagining the world around her. As an artist and designer, she weaves in a sense of wonder, infusing everyday objects such as a chair, vase or table with something more than its intended purpose and she invites us into her rich imagination.
“Sketching for me is not just about putting a pencil to paper, but it can mean collage, watercolour, modelling, or some handmade thing. Each time I begin a new project, the process is different. There is not any fixed working method except that every time I start with something handmade, whether it’s a large project or small, it is always there.”
This connection between sketching and making is reflected in recent work that explores the potential of collage in new ways. In Domestic Collages, 2020-21, van Eijk hand-stitched pieces of fabric from her own extensive textile archive into different patterns, textures and colours to create large textile collages. The free-form approach to cutting and sewing created a series of unique wall hangings, some which show interior scenes while others remain more abstract, suggestive of close-ups of landscapes or examples of colour and pattern experimentation. Ceramic Wall Stories, 2020-21, a series of hand-built ceramic mirrors made while working as an artist-in-residence at the Dutch ceramics company Cor Unum, are built through a ‘cut and paste’ process in which slabs of glazed ceramic are placed around a mirror, creating a 3D collage object. Having previously worked mainly in cast ceramics, van Eijk was interested to really sculpt the clay with her hands while also wanting to work independently and “create the ability to do everything myself by hand and pay attention to my own resources,” without the need for external companies or craftspeople.
Ceramic Totems, 2020-2021, is a series of hand-built ceramic objects that includes colourful tables and candlestick holders. These sculptures or ‘totems of the imagination’ as she refers to them, reflect the artist’s hand as she constructs each shape and form. There is no fixed plan as she builds the 2D and 3D shapes for these ‘totems’; once glazed and fired, she brings them back to her studio to “intuitively play around with the volumes and forms to create the final object”. There are endless options in this intuitive approach to sculpture and ceramics.
In a collection of tea-towels designed for the Textielmuseum in Tilburg, the Netherlands, where she currently has a solo exhibition, “Imaginings| Dutch Design by Kiki van Eijk”, she reminds us of the importance of nature to her work. Titled Botanica, 2018, the collection was inspired by colourful sketches made with her son of their vegetable garden, with images of blooming courgettes, tomatoes and radishes. In 2020, she launched a line of whimsical carpets with the Dutch brand Moooi. Titled Handwriting, the imagery is again inspired from her working in the vegetable garden, hands in the soil, engaging with nature. It is a personal project for her, one that directly links life and art. A book published in September 2020, “Imaginings by Kiki van Eijk”, is an archive of this life-art connection, featuring photos of her garden and studio, sketches and quotes, along with texts and images of her work, giving the reader an intimate look at her creative process.
Whatever medium van Eijk chooses, there is something tactile and engaging about her work, and this is part of her magic. She doesn’t place any distance between us and the object; instead, we feel welcomed in to touch, play or imagine it just as she has. In many ways, Van Eijk is like a magical realist, subtly continuing to blur the lines between reality and fantasy, sketching and final object.
“Imaginings| Dutch Design by Kiki van Eijk”, Textielmuseum, Tilburg, until September 12, 2021.
“Imaginings by Kiki van Eijk”, published by nai010
Spazio Nobile Gallery, solo show Kiki van Eijk, “The New Harvest” at Lempertz Brussels, May 25-June 2, 2021, during Collectible Design and Art Brussels Week in the city.
Images courtesy of