And That My Dear, Changes Everything

Events
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands (August 2016)

“I urge you to travel. As far and as much as possible. Work ridiculous shifts to save your money. Go without the latest IPhone. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone. Find out how other people live and realize that the world is much bigger than the town that you live in. And when you come home, home may still be the same. Yes, you may have to go back to your same old job. But something in your mind will have changed. And that my dear, changes everything.”
– Unknown

Be All There

Travel
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Grote Kerk, Breda, The Netherlands (July 2016)

“Wherever you are, be all there.”
– Jim Elliot

I have been fascinated by the beautiful church of Breda since I first saw it. It is stunning at all times of day and night. It stands proudly in the bright sun and even on gloomy, cloud filled days. I can even see from the window of my flat which is a treat. Today, I finally climbed to the top of the tower of Grote Kerk. I have been meaning to do this for many months, and I was waiting for the perfect day; though with a lack of time and a lack of sunny afternoons, now proved to be a good as time as any.

The tower is 320 feet in height and it is the fifth tallest church tower of the Netherlands. It was built in the late-gothic style as a church and city tower between 1468 and 1509. The main purposes of the tower in this time were to indicate special moments and events for the church through bell ringing, indicate the time, and give alarm in times of fire and war to citizens of the area. There are 287 steps up to the look out point. In clear weather, one can see as far as Antwerp and Rotterdam.

The views from the look out gallery were stunning. It was great to see my beautiful city of Breda from another angle. I’m still very in love with this quaint, Dutch town and I will be sad to say goodbye when the time comes.

(For those who may be wondering, it costs five euros for a guided tour to climb the tower. For more information, click here.)

Drum Roll, Please…

Study Abroad
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NHTV Breda University Of Applied Sciences (June 2016)

I am delighted to announce that this afternoon I completed the final step in my undergraduate thesis research. I defended my thesis in a room with two external examiners present and my supervisor with whom I have worked closely on this project with. I was nothing short of nervous, and I had been stressing over this presentation for some time, however, I received very positive outcomes on this project. With one of the top marks, my written work was given a grade of 9.5 and my oral presentation was given a grade of 9, which averaged out to a solid 9. This is considered to be very high, as an average grade is a 7, and 10’s are extremely rare. I was in shock with a huge smile on my face when my supervisor told me this news! (The smile is permanently glued to my face now, of course!) All of the comments were very good and it was commented that my excitement for my topic really shined through in every word. That’s such a lovely compliment. Wow!

Overall, this has been a fascinating process for me, to independently research and make so many connections in Amsterdam’s underground realm of street art. I have not spent this much time (nearly six months) focusing on one project, but it was worth every moment of it. I could not have done this without the help of supportive friends and family members, and all of the incredible contacts I have met throughout my research.

I will post my thesis online in the near future, after one last final review, so that everyone may have a chance to download and read it. Many celebrations will be had throughout this week, including a graduation ceremony with my fellow International Tourism Management & Consultancy classmates. Exciting times are ahead!

The Breath Knocked Right Out Of You

Inspiration, Travel
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Valkenburg, The Netherlands (June 2016)

“Sometimes is knocks the breath right out of me, realizing how lucky I am to be here and alive with you. To be the one you feel safe with. To be the one whose ones you curl up into when its cold. To be the one whose mouth you drowsily kiss when you are half asleep in my  arms.” 
– Beau Taplin

Carpe Diem

Inspiration, Travel
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Kinderdijk, South Holland (May 2016)

“Stop waiting for Friday. For summer. For someone to fall in love with you. For life. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now.” 
– Anonymous

Graphic Design Festival Breda

Artwork, Exhibits, Travel
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Blind Walls Gallery In Mols Parking (October 2015)

From September 25th to October 25th, 2015, there is a festival across Breda focused around graphic design and digital art. Graphic Design Festival Breda is meant for contemporary creatives to allow one to view the world differently with a month of public interventions, exhibitions, talks, tours, and workshops in the city centre. This festival is offered every two years, and this is the fifth year that it has taken place.

 This past weekend, I signed up for a tour of some of the street art in the city centre. I still have yet to see all of the outdoor murals and pop up art exhibitions, so stay tuned for more photos. As part of the festival, many new murals have been added in the centre from international artists around the world. Several of these works shown above are from artists in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, including the same one who designed the famous Markthal in Rotterdam.

 I learned a lot about these murals, some of which I had already seen before, but now I have a deeper perspective on each one. For example, in the Mols Parking lot, this area has thousands of people buried below the concrete from the terror of the black plague in 1353. Much later on, a large circus was hosted here, with many exotic animals. This area is home to at least eight large scale murals. One of the murals (the one with the mice) focuses on a child’s perspective of the black death. Another has uses the subject of a circus theme to further develop a sense of place, and add to Breda’s unique history.

The orange one that features the words “Any day, Queens day” is a love letter from an American artist to the city of Breda. The smaller words across the wall are examples of why this artist loves this country, and shares a sense of pride for women, especially, whom at the time this mural was made, the Queen of The Netherlands. At present, King Williem-Alexander is the monarchical figurehead. There was originally another wall with more words, but the shop expanded a few years and had to remove a piece of the artwork.

There is another mural by an American artist, Mike Perry, in the same alleyway who uses a poem by Mike Nicolas as inspiration. The poem is a palindrome, so the mural can be read from left from right, or right to left, and have a different meaning. Very neat!

All of these murals that are outdoors and around the city centre are a part of the growing ‘Blind Walls Gallery’. From what I have learned, this gallery is building from the idea that Breda once had fortifying city walls, now fallen of course, and utilizes presently blank wall space to build up a new wall, new culture, and to bring new life to the city. I must also tell you about the Three Seconds Gallery, which is housed in an underground parking lot. In the entrance/exit of the lot, there are artworks lined up along the walls on both sides. Each individual piece of art has a motion sensor. As cars enter or exit, which in theory takes about three seconds, the artwork as a whole responds to the car’s movements. So innovative!

One of my personal favourites of the tour was enjoying the Open Submissions Gallery at Stadsgalerij, a pop up gallery for the festival. The title of this gallery is What Do You Do? All of the works featured here were sent in from artists and every day people around the world anonymously, and then selected to be put on display. The beauty of this, is that simply anyone, whether professional or not, could have their artwork featured here. The theme of the works was “What does a graphic designer do?”

One last neat thing I learned from this tour, that a fountain in Valkenberg Park I pass by often on my way to university has a special purpose. There are many famous people who have originated from Breda, and it is said that if one drinks from this fountain, they are destined to be famous. It is another way of looking at the saying, “There is something in the water.” I thought this was a neat tidbit of information that I otherwise would have not known.

For anyone currently reading this, I would highly recommend checking out at least one of the many events hosted by the Graphic Design Festival Breda. The tour I took is offered on Fridays and Sundays until the end of the festival and only cost five euros; which is very inexpensive considering the amount of information and the excellent experience I took away from this.

From an academic perspective, I am brainstorming ideas for my upcoming thesis project. I am thinking about using examples of street art to argue if this type of community can develop a destination. I’m still working on the final research topic, and if you, dear readers, have any insight, ideas on books to read, etc, please comment below.