Off the Amsterdam Track

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.


About susancarey

Angela writes using pseudonym, Susan Carey. She has dual nationality, GB/NL and lives in Nijmegen. Susan has had short fiction published on multiple platforms and was a runner-up in the 2018 and 2017 Casket of Fictional Delights Flash Competitions. Her writing has also been published and performed by amongst others: Mslexia, Liars’ League, Reflex Fiction, the Casket and of course the wonderful Writers Abroad. In 2020 she published her short story collection, Healer. Tweets at @su_carey
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4 Responses to Off the Amsterdam Track

  1. Sally says:

    Yes, interesting subject. The artist, I mean. And his pictures. I know something about ‘ricocheting around the world’ and the rootlessness this can bring.


    • susancarey says:

      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!


  2. pfornari says:

    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.


  3. susancarey says:

    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…


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