MILK

This is a project I intend to work on from now on and throughout 2021. For you to understand it, I may need to tell you a bit about myself. I have always loved the smallholder farm life, dreaming about the little house on the prairie as a child, and growing a vegetable garden and keeping chickens as an adult. When we moved to the rural area just north of Amsterdam, we got sheep and turkeys, and I even kept my own heritage breed pigs for a while, making sausages and drying hams in the shed. I made enough soap with the pork fat to last us a lifetime.

However, keeping my own animals and living in between dairy farmers forced me to adjust my romantic views and it has given me a lot more insight into the real farm life. Wherever there are lambs jumping around in a field, there is also the pressure to get them big enough in time for Easter lunch. Wherever there is cheese made,  there are calves fattened for slaughter. Birth and death go hand in hand.

Painting of calves sleeping in the straw, at the livestock market.
"Calves at the livestock market", oil on paper 50x65cm by Philine van der Vegte

The MILK project is about painting my immediate surroundings, with a focus on the different sides of contemporary dairy farming.

How do things really work on a modern dairy farm, and why? How does this affect the animals, the people handling them, and the landscape they live in? I want to look into this and capture it with an open mind. Paint as much as my neighbours will allow in stables and fields. See what has been done by other painters. Talk with farmers a lot. Paint a few big cattle works. Record a life line from birth to slaughter. Educate myself and maybe others.

A lot of these studies and one huge work will be shown at a solo exhibition in the Waterland Museum in the autumn of 2021. In the meantime, you can follow my journey on Instagram.