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  • Writer's pictureRuta Saksens Kalmane

Interview Article In The Schaapskooi Newspaper

On April 11, 2023, the regional newspaper ‘Schaapskooi’ (distributed to 29 000 houses and available online) published an article about the exhibition The Bush Monster based on an interview that was carried out in the beginning of April 2023.

Fig. 1: Het Schaapskooi 2023. Article 'Foto-expositie Het Struikmonster in Kulturhus'


Photo-exhibition ‘The Bush Monster’ in Kulturhus

EPE- The photo-exhibition titled ‘The Bush Monster’ by Ruta Saksens Kalmane can be seen in Kulturhus EGW in Epe until April 28.

It is an interactive exhibition with sustainability kept in mind and especially aimed at children. The 35-year-old artist and photographer Ruta comes from Latvia. She moved to Amsterdam 10 years ago for love and since last year she lives with her husband and son in Emst. “A place that feels a bit like home, with rich woodland and quiet surroundings”. In Latvia, she completed her bachelor's and master's degrees in English linguistics, and has now almost completed her third degree: the master's degree in photography at Falmouth University, an online course taught from the United Kingdom. With her photography she mainly focuses on nature subjects. For her graduation project, she has been working on 'The Bush Monster' since last summer. It is an educational story for children illustrated with photos. Now, almost a year later, this story has come to life in the photo exhibition in the Kulturhus and in two handmade books. The story of the bush monster is inspired by nature in her 'back garden' in The Veluwe and by her son Colin. “The story for children is about bullying. Our son Colin, what if he is bullied later? The subject was in my head, that's why I wanted to make a story and a book out of it. The exhibition and the handmade book tell a special story about a bush monster who is used to hunting those who are different and chooses a wooden deer as his next target. This peculiar story can serve as a starting point for a more in-depth discussion between an adult and a child on topics such as feeling different, equality, empathy, tolerance and forgiveness.” Son Colin was not only a source of inspiration, but also has a small role in the exhibition in a soundtrack that can be heard via a QR code. The handmade book is also dedicated to Colin. The photos she took not only illustrate the story about the bush monster, but also make you think. “There are many metaphors in the story, the photos sometimes have a different meaning from what you directly see. The story and the photos go together in this.” To illustrate the story, she took photos of trees, leaves, shrubs and mushrooms. Ruta has used various techniques for obtaining the photos, such as photomontage and a reversed lens technique, so that certain effects can be seen in the photos. The photo exhibition is also reflected in a handmade book. “The photos in the book are the same as in the exhibition, but produced slightly differently.” For her graduation project, Ruta made the handmade book in English, and there is also a second book, translated into Dutch. Everything in the book is handmade with sustainability being an important part of it, which is also encouraged by Falmouth University. The book contains acid-free paper, recycled paper, sugar cane paper, handmade paper, woodless seed pencil, organic material and bio-based plastics. Ruta has made interactive hand-out books for the children who visit the photo exhibition. In addition to the whole story, these booklets also contain all kinds of activities such as a photography hunt, colouring page, puzzles such as a word search and finding differences, as well as a place to make your own monster. The photo exhibition can be viewed free of charge. For the children who want to work with the hand-out, it is available for two euros. Colouring-in material can also be found in the Kulturhus. With her graduation project, the Linguistics and Photography studies come together for Ruta. “They both have something in common, there are similarities. Photography is a visual language and linguistics is a verbal language. Both have symbols, both are languages but in different ways,” explains Ruta. She will complete her studies at the end of April and will receive her diploma in July in an official ceremony. Are you curious about the photo exhibition or do you want to interact with the hand-out book with your (grand)children? The exhibition can be visited until April 28 during the opening hours of Kulturhus EGW, Stationsstraat 25 in Epe.

Figure 1: SCHAAPSKOOI. 2023. 'Foto-exspositie Het Struikmonster in Kulturhus'. From Nieuwsblad Schaapskooi, 40 (p.12). Heerde

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