Always look up!
This is the perfect place to confess: I love churches! Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I make it my business to walk into a church for a few moments.
What makes a church building so lovely, so inspiring? The space, the acoustics and the stunning architecture. But it's also about the people you meet in churches; they’re usually friendly and have a particular sense of humour. Moreover, there is always someone around who knows where the ‘stairway to heaven is . . . ‘
An aerial work platform was needed to photograph the closed organ shutters in the St Lawrence Church in Alkmaar. Photo: Ymer Marinus
A very large building can make a person feel rather small; this is the feeling I want to convey with my photographs. The special quality of the light falling through stained-glass windows should be evident in the photo, while sometimes fascinating church details require additional light sources.
The closed organ shutters in the St Lawrence Church were photographed for the 2016 exhibition Caesar van Everdingen, Painting Beauty, commissioned by the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar.
The organ was designed by Jacob van Campen (1596-1657) and the image portrayed on the monumental organ shutters was painted by Caesar van Everdingen (1616/1617-1678).
The Triumph of King Saul after David's Victory over Goliath (1644) 908 x 676 cm. Detail of a group of captives on the centre column of the closed shutters.
This work was painted a few years before the Oranjezaal was created, also designed by Jacob van Campen. A number of paintings by Caesar van Everdingen are hanging in the Oranjezaal as well.
This enormous altarpiece was painted around 1540 by Maarten van Heemskerk for the same Great or St Lawrence Church in Alkmaar. After the Reformation it fell out of favour and was sold to the Swedish king. He donated it to the Dom Church in Linköping where it has been hanging since 1582. This photo was commissioned by the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar; read more about it in my article Photography on a ‘higher plane’.
The floor of the fifteenth-century Westerkerk in Enkhuizen is covered in tombstones. The floor of this church, and especially the tombstones, have been restored with the support of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Beyond the floor is a wooden choir screen dating from 1542. Nowadays, the Westerkerk is used as a cultural centre.
In the Westerkerk there was also someone who knew where to find the ‘stairway to heaven . . .’ ‘If you're not scared . . . the best view of the floor is from up there.’ Some moments later, with my camera in-hand, I’m walking across the roof and back inside through a small door to take this photo.