New Field Vases by Billie van Katwijk

Billie van Katwijk’s work is most recognizable by her unconventional approach to objects, promoting inspiration through concepts usually completed by the user’s experience and thoughts. They often reveal her love for nature by highlighting the beauty of natural forms, colors and materials.
In her ‘New Field’ project, Billie explores the poetic memories of a changing landscape, more specifically the memories of Nijmegen North, a rural area formerly known for its clay, now converted in an urban space full of sand and houses. This project, commissioned by Fabrikaat, resulted in a series of ceramics made with Nijmegens local clay, whose forms were inspired by archeological finds in order to preserve the memory of a place now covered by the city.

I strongly believe that Design can add value to our lives. Through Design we can rescue crafts, handmade objects and keep the memory alive

Billie van Katwijk

The Beginning

Billie van Katwijk: Nijmegen North is a Dutch region by the river known for its rich history and beautiful landscape all covered with high grass, deaf nettles, and cow parsley. Because of its natural resources, Nijmegen’s clay has been excavated for centuries, with the Roman and prehistoric former residents making vases, pots, and amphoras, in which they preserved their food. More recently, this clay was used as raw material for several brick factories in the region. Now it is just a memory – No lush landscape, just sand, and houses instead. With these landscape changes in mind, I decided to make the history of this place tangible to our generation by developing a vases project based on the archaeological finds from the area.

‘New Field’ Vases

Billie van Katwijk: The title of this project has a double meaning. New Field is next to a new field/ new ground/ new terrain/ area. It also refers to Noviomagus (translated new field) is a toponym given to a number of places with Roman origins, like Nijmegen.

‘New Field’ is a poetic way of preserving the place’s memory. An amphora was made from the local river clay to conserve the raw clay. The vases’ shapes are inspired by archaeological finds of the region, using a Terra Sigillata outside layer – a fine slip technique made during the Roman Empire. These vessels have glossy surface slips in a characteristic brownish color range. Inside they have illustrations portraiting several stages of this project’s experience.

Design & Handmade Objects

Billie van Katwijk: I strongly believe that Design can add value to our lives. Through Design we can rescue crafts, handmade objects and keep the memory alive. There is a special connection between handmade objects and humans, a human feeling that you cannot find in other types of objects.

Interview with Billie van Katwijk | Photography Abel Minnee.