During the Second World War, a young Dutch girl called Mary Gabrielse was interned in a Japanese war camp in Indonesia with her mother and sister, in what used to be The Dutch East Indies. She had qualified as an Olympic swimmer just before war broke out, and when she was in the camps she helped the resistance by swimming underground, through pitch black, stinking sewers, to pass messages between the men's and women’s camps. She kept a sketch book in which she would draw sketches and cartoons from that time, which are now in the Hague museum. She is my grandmother, my Oma. She told me the stories. They stayed with me.
When war broke out she was only 17. I heard her stories when I was a similar age, and I remember being in awe of her and what she had endured, both during her internment and after. I learned of other courageous women like her, not only from her stories and the journal her mother wrote, but from my own research later on. These women exhibited strength, resilience, creativity and humour, which helped them to cope and to find purpose in such a bleak time of suffering and humiliation.
My aim with 'Eve in Exile' is to capture that hope, resilience and courage that these women displayed. There is something inspiring and transcendent about an unbroken spirit!
Just as I wonder
whether it’s going to die,
the orchid blossoms
By Sam Hamill
The Orchid, as one of the national flowers of Indonesia and has been used as the memorial flower for war in the Dutch East Indies, symbolised for me their strength and survival!
I have used materials that are imbued with symbolical meaning. The Orchids have been made out of copper, canvas printed with my Omama’s war memoir, bed linen soaked in coffee, all wrapped with barb wire and framed with vintage trunks.