Friday, March 24, 2023

Netherlands 2023 - Jimmy Nelson, Ode To The Netherlands

About Jimmy Nelson - Ode To The Netherlands

On 25 January 2023, PostNL will issue a series of four stamp sheets entitled Jimmy Nelson – Ode to the Netherlands. The personalised stamps feature portraits of women and girls in Dutch national and regional dress, photographed by Jimmy Nelson for his 2022 book Between the Sea and the Sky. The stamps were designed by graphic designer Larissa Rosvaenge of Jimmy Nelson Studio. The denomination on these stamps is ‘1’, the denomination for items weighing up to 20g destined for the Netherlands.

The four Jimmy Nelson – Ode to the Netherlands stamp sheets feature 20 portraits of women and girls in Dutch national and regional dress. National and regional dress is location- and region-specific clothing that is subject to unwritten rules that are known and clear to those who wear it locally. Most Dutch regional dress can be traced back to earlier civic fashions, especially from the 17th and 19th centuries. In some places, elements of that fashion were maintained while the general fashion changed. Many variations emerged throughout the years. In many areas of the Netherlands, regional costume has disappeared; in others, the disappearance is taking longer than predicted. Source: Het Streekdrachten Boek, Adriana Brunsting and Hanneke van Zuthem, Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle 2007.

Featured locations and regions:
Ode to the Netherlands I Veluwe, Huizen, Schouwen-Duiveland, Volendam, Rijssen

Ode to the Netherlands II Walcheren, Friesland, Leeuwarden, Scheveningen, Arnemuiden

Ode to the Netherlands III Spakenburg, Marken, Urk, Zaanstreek, Kampereiland

Ode to the Netherlands IV Hindeloopen, Staphorst, Katwijk, Enkhuizen, Axel

The photos on the Jimmy Nelson – Ode to the Netherlands stamp sheet are taken from the 2022 book Between the Sea and the Sky by British-Dutch artist Jimmy Nelson. In the book, he portrays 20 Dutch communities in traditional and regional dress in their own environment. The 528-page book features intimate photographic portraits and iconic landscapes, captured with an analogue plate camera. The detailed nature of the images, with plenty of contrast and depth, harks back to the work of the Dutch master painters of the 17th century.

The stamps of the Jimmy Nelson – Ode to the Netherlands issue feature photo portraits of women and girls in Dutch national and regional dress. Most portraits are of the upper body and face. The viewing direction of those portrayed changes. The background is dim and dark, making the bright areas in clothing and headgear stand out more. A collage of other photographic portraits from the locations and regions featured on the stamps is printed at the top of the sheet edge, against an equally dark background. This photomontage also features men in regional dress. On each stamp sheet, a line on the sheet edge serves as a graphic element to connect the photomontage on the sheet edge and the photo portraits on the stamps.

The font used for the denomination 1 and Internationaal was designed in 2018 by type designer Martin Majoor from Arnhem. The remaining typography used the 1991 font Didot by Adrian Frutiger for Linotype of Berlin (based on the Didot fonts of 1784-1811) and the 2010 font Aperçu by Colophon Foundry of London/Los Angeles.

The Jimmy Nelson – Ode to the Netherlands stamps were designed by Larissa Rosvaenge. She is responsible for all designs as a graphic designer within the Jimmy Nelson Studio team. She also designed the book Between the Sea and the Sky from which the photos featured on the stamps were taken.

Human connection
The Between the Sea and the Sky project was created during the Covid pandemic. At the time, travelling to faraway places, where Jimmy Nelson usually takes his photographs, was not possible. ‘As a creative company, we are always looking for human connection,’ Nelson explains. ‘Thanks to the Covid measures, we discovered that there is actually a great wealth of cultural heritage within the Netherlands. A heritage that creates connections within the conscious community, also through storytelling and experiencing a collective past together. As a creative studio, we consider beauty to be an important factor. We are not anthropologists or regional dress experts. But we delved deep into the subject and presented it in the most beautiful and balanced way possible. Both in the book and in the accompanying exhibition and now also on the stamps.’

Every detail
Larissa Rosvaenge believes the search for balance was an important starting point for the design of the stamps. ‘Of course, the source material was not unknown to me, since I worked on the book for 2 years. I know all the photos, all the people in them and every detail. The official launch of the book in September last year took place at a gathering of hundreds of those who were portrayed in the book on the Museumplein. All wearing national or regional dress. So that’s when I met everyone in real life. It was like meeting celebrities.’

Reflecting the seasons
The stamps represent every single photographed community, from Axel to the Zaan region. Rosvaenge: ‘Initially, when I was selecting the images, I did not restrict myself to anything. I first looked at which people in the book resonated with me the most and whether the images meshed well with each other. Then we started to focus more on balance. Balanced ages, for example: the youngest person portrayed on the stamps is 3 years old, the oldest well into their 80s. But also balance in where people came from, what colours predominated in the pictures and what viewing directions there were. Moreover, we tried to avoid repetition as much as possible. It was interesting to see that a colour scheme that reflects the seasons emerged almost spontaneously. We ended up with stamp sheets on which white predominated in winter, light colours emerged in spring, stronger colours appeared in summer and darker shades surfaced in autumn.’

Intensity of expressions
The mood of the portraits is defined by the way Nelson photographs his subjects. ‘This is always done with the utmost respect,’ he says. ‘In an environment where silence prevails and where I become fully subservient to the subject. Technology also plays an important part. I shoot in natural light with an analogue plate camera, with a wide aperture and a slow shutter speed. This requires people to sit still for a long period of time, and you can see that in the intensity of their facial expressions. It is literally a unique photograph. And they’re all unedited, unlike today’s polished digital photography. We are always looking for beauty in imperfection.’

Graphic line
This imperfection returns in the thin graphic line connecting the photo collage on the sheet edge with the stamps. ‘They are the real contours of a negative from the plate camera,’ Rosvaenge explains. ‘We picked the edges of a different negative for each stamp sheet. This is how they actually look, we have not edited them to ‘improve’ them. They are real, the way the people in the images are real individuals.’ The latter is echoed by Nelson, who does not work with models for his photography. ‘They are real people who are aware of the living heritage within a culture with its own identity,’ he says. ‘So therefore, these portraits are not ours. They are not our property. We were only able to create them thanks to the cooperation of all those people. They not only give us their portraits, but also their souls and their stories. We package that – for example, in the shape of a book and, in this case, stamps – and show it to the world.’

Focal point
On the stamps, the fixed frame of the personal stamps determines the framing of the photo portraits. On the sheet border, Rosvaenge gave herself the freedom to feature the portraits in a different way. ‘The collage is yet another way of showing that national and regional dress are still very much alive. This is done by cropping the images whilst respecting the original image and the recognisability of the people. Each collage has a single person in the centre who is featured larger than the others. In a busy collage like this, you need a focal point. That is purely an aesthetic choice, it has nothing to do with the person’s position in the community.’

Love letters
Besides photographic portraits, the collage incorporates particular details of national and regional dress. According to Larissa, the result was a strong, layered design. ‘All sorts of things are going on, and you will have to look several times to get through those layers. That is why I would love it if people bought two of each stamp sheet: one to keep, the other for sending mail. Preferably for love letters, of course.’

About the designer
Larissa Rosvaenge (Munich, 1989) studied Fashion Design in Munich, followed by a master’s degree in Fashion Strategy in Arnhem. Her interdisciplinary background and love of art and culture led her to the world of Jimmy Nelson. She has worked as the Head of Design and Art Curator at the Jimmy Nelson Studio since 2016. There, she is responsible for all designs, including books, exhibitions, the website and now the stamps.

About the photographer
Jimmy Nelson (Sevenoaks, 1967) is a British-Dutch artist working from Amsterdam. Nelson was already active as a photojournalist in war zones from an early age and regularly undertook expeditions to photograph remote cultures. In 2010, Nelson launched the Before They Pass Away project, a 3-year tour of the world during which he photographed 35 indigenous peoples. The accompanying book, which was published in 2013, was his big breakthrough. In 2018, Nelson published Homage to Humanity, featuring more than 400 photographs of 30 indigenous peoples. Established in 2016, the Jimmy Nelson Foundation is a foundation that promotes the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples. Nelson's most recent project is 2022’s Between the Sea and the Sky, in which he portrays 20 Dutch communities in traditional dress.

No comments: