Will Fisher met Dutch artists Sinke & van Tongeren just before dashing off on his summer holidays. This creative congregation was summoned by writer Helen Chislett of London Connoisseur. Will then left for Greece, Sinke and van Tongeren returned to Amsterdam but the vision of this exuberant exhibition remained. In the space of a couple of months ‘Darwin’s Menagerie’ evolved and Sinke & van Tongeren’s inaugural exhibition of taxidermic art hosted by leading antiques emporium, Jamb has arrived.
Sinke & van Tongeren is dedicated to showing the beauty and magic of nature through its flamboyant compositions of Fine Taxidermy. The fact that founders, Ferry van Tongeren and Jaap Sinke, place the name of ‘Executive Director’ Charles Darwin, before their own is a tribute to the great naturalist and geologist. Van Tongeren and Sinke have long studied and marvelled at the work of Old Masters such as Jan Weenix, Melchior d’Hondecoeter and Adriaen van Olen. In the 17th century, these great artists set out to portray the wonder of the exotic animals brought back to Europe by explorers. Today, van Tongeren and Sinke have picked up the legacy of these great artists, determining to create taxidermic art in homage to the skill and passion of the Old Masters.
Van Tongeren and Sinke met 20 years ago while both working as advertising creative. Van Tongeren decided on a new career in taxidermic art and studied the techniques under the guidance of two notable Dutch taxidermists and this led to him working as a taxidermist at the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, one of the oldest and largest taxidermy collections in the world. So passionate was he about this extraordinary change of direction that he persuaded Sinke to also train in taxidermic techniques and join him in this new venture.
They see it as their mission to preserve the beauty of nature it in all its glory and to encourage the viewer to look with new eyes at the natural world that surrounds us. Van Tongeren says ‘ Our Fine Taxidermy is as valid a piece of art as painting, sculpture or contemporary installation. It is our hope and intention that these works will be recognised for the skill, dedication and dramatic effect for which we continually strive”.
Will Fisher is excited to see the juxtaposition between these spectacular compositions and his own magnificent collection of chimneypieces, lighting and furniture. He says, “We are predominantly English country house dealers but there is a decadence in Darwin, Sinke and van Tongeren’s work that feels like a direct continuity between a Baroque, bygone age and the contemporary. There is a big interest in taxidermy right now, but this is different to anything previously seen. Jaap and Ferry’s compositions transcend the considerable skill involved and become art. I am proud that Jamb should be the first to put it in front of a wider audience.”
‘Darwin’s Menagerie’ runs from the 16th to the 30th October at Jamb.
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