Because I live in Amsterdam, my special days out – especially in the tourist season – are often further afield. Yesterday, it was a visit to Leiden, a university town about 40 minutes south of Amsterdam.
At the Museum van Volkenkunde in Leiden there is a photography exhibition by Jimmy Nelson of indigenous people from all over the globe. Nelson describes himself as a Shell child. His father worked for Shell and the Nelson family ricocheted around the world from secondment to secondment. Nelson went to boarding school in the UK from the age of seven but he felt, like so many expat children, rootless. His sense of belonging is something he finds within the human connection he experiences with his subjects. Each photo is planned meticulously, the photographer showing each group or individual at their best. There are no unguarded moments in his pictures. The only element I felt was missing was the vulnerability of indigenous peoples. Perhaps this can be explained by Nelson’s years working in the advertising world, but that aside, this record of the variation and beauty of the different peoples around the world is truly awe-inspiring.
Exhibition runs till 7 September 2014. Don’t miss it! And while you’re in Leiden, if it’s a sunny day, go to the Hortus Botanicus too. One of my favourite special places in the Netherlands.
Yes, interesting subject. The artist, I mean. And his pictures. I know something about ‘ricocheting around the world’ and the rootlessness this can bring.
Thanks, Sally. He’s definitely made it into a positive thing. Rootlessness came to me later in life. As a child and teenager I was very much part of a community rooted in a particular place with all the feelings of safety and restrictions that way of life can bring. I often look back on those years with great nostalgia!
How interesting. The indigenous people in Bangladesh are certainly amongst the most vulnerable, yet they have such wonderfully rich traditions. Their languages are fast disappearing, it’s so sad.
Thanks, Paola. Don’t think Nelson went to Bangladesh. That should be on his next photography trip! As you say it’s a whole gamut of traditions that are disappearing, including language, ways of making a living to name but a few…