The disapearance of Mayken Verhulst, Pepingen, 2019

Mayken Verhulst, or the transition from woman to flower field

A sculpture in clay, seeds and plants (200 cm).

Reading the biography of Pieter Bruegel, I became fascinated by his mother-in-law, Mayken Verhulst, and the role she played in his life.
In her time, she was a much appreciated miniaturist and yet, today no work by her is known.
Even though she was at the foundation of the success of Bruegel and his sons, she seems to have disappeared in the folds of history.

I made a life-sized sculpture of her in the landscape in raw, unpurified clay that I had dug up and mixed with seeds.
After a few months, the sculpture had almost disappeared. First the cracks came, and then the rain washed it away, little by little. Because I had mixed flower seeds in the clay, a small field of flowers remained in the end.
A modest homage.

I photographed the process of decay and blossoming. Writer and Breughel specialist Leen Huet wrote a short story to accompany my images. Her text, together with some of my photos, was published in 2019. The booklet’s title: Mrs. Renaissance.

For the exhibition on Jan Breughel in the Antwerp Rockoxhuis (2019), I made a sculpture of Mayken Verhulst in polyester with bronze patina.