40 years of Galerie Marzee: Still Influencing Art Jewelry with Marie-José Van Der Hout, Founder & Director of Galerie Marzee

Episode 122

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Why Marie-José developed the Marzee Graduate Prize to help young jewelry artists
  • How she secured the historic building her gallery and apartment are located in
  • Who Marie-José’s favorite artists are, such as Dorothea Prühl
  • Why the term “art jewelry” is redundant
  • How the pandemic inspired Marie-José to look closer to home for exhibition ideas

About Marie-José van den Hout

Born in Roermond in the Netherlands, Marie-José van den Hout grew up in a family of three generations of ecclesiastical gold- and silversmiths. It was in the workshop of her grandfather, a renowned craftsman who specialized in repoussé and chasing, that her passion for gold grew and flourished. Alongside two of her brothers, Marie-José worked in her father’s studio before studying gold- and silversmithing and then fine art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht. She established Galerie Marzee in Nijmegen in 1979 and was honored with the title of Officer of the Order of Oranje-Nassau at the gallery’s 40th anniversary celebrations in June 2019.

Additional Resources:

Openingstijden / opening hours
di-vr 10.00-18.00 uur, za 10.00-17.00 uur
Tue-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm


Otto Künzli, Quidam XVIII, 2019, brooch; Corian, plastic, operculum, acrylic paint, steel, 75 x 87 mm
Rudolf Kocéa, Tears, 2019, necklace; fine silver, enamel, stainless steel, pendant: 80 x 110 x 20 mm, L 600 mm
Barbara Paganin, Rose, 2017, necklace; polymethylmethacrylate, oxidised silver, gold, 200 x 200 x 20 mm

Vera Siemund, untitled, 2019, necklace; enamelled copper, copper, steel, silver, 100 x 60 x 40 mm
Dorothea Prühl, necklace, Raben im Kreis (Ravens in a circle) 2020, titanium and gold

Located in a former grain warehouse on the banks of the River Waal in the Netherlands, Galerie Marzee is the largest (and some would say the most influential) art jewelry gallery in the world. The gallery was founded in 1979 by Marie-José van den Hout, who has spent her lifetime immersed in jewelry, goldsmithing, and art. She joined the podcast to talk about the exhibitions she’s working on now, why she dedicates so much time to helping art and jewelry students, and how an exhibition of combs put Galerie Marzee on the map. Read the episode transcript below. 

Sharon: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Jewelry Journey Podcast. Today, my guest is Marie-José van den Hout, founder and owner of Galerie Marzee, the world’s largest art jewelry gallery. The gallery is located in the Netherlands. Marie is a highly regarded leader in the field of art jewelry and has an interesting story, which we’ll hear about today. Marie-José, welcome to the podcast.

Marie: Thank you.

Sharon: Tell us about your jewelry journey. You studied metalsmithing. When did you start liking art jewelry or jewelry?

Marie: I started at eight, I think. Well, my journey started when I was four or five years old. My great-grandfather, although I never knew him, and my grandfather and my father were gold and silversmiths, but they didn’t make jewelry; they made objects for Roman Catholic churches. I grew up with all these objects, which now are exported from Europe to America because there are too many and museums can’t have them anymore. Anyway, when I was four years old, my father made a ring for me, and I was very proud of that ring. I was not interested in jewelry. He sometimes made rings for friends or for my mother, but he made a ring for me when I was a child and I took it. I was allowed, against his wishes to be honest, to take it to kindergarten. In the class, I very proudly showed this ring. At the time, those classes were huge, 40, 50 children, so it went around the class and it never came back to me, the ring. I was very shy; I didn’t dare say anything to the teacher, so I went home without a ring. Many years later, I had an exhibition with Manuel Vilhena. He’s a Portuguese jeweler. He had his exhibition and he made a ring from a string, just a simple string, and he said, “This is your ring. I know why you started the jewelry gallery; because you’re still looking for your ring.” I found this such a beautiful story. 

So, my journey started when I was four, but to be honest, it didn’t really, because I was not interested in jewelry at all, not a bit. I always used to like drawing and painting. In those times, you learned to do those crafts at home, and the best teachers are your parents. At the academy where I went in Maastricht, they once asked my father—they wanted him to be a teacher at the academy, and he said, “No, no, no, no, I’m not interested.” But then we, my two brothers and me, went to the academy. We had to, because you were not allowed to work as a gold and silversmith and make pieces when you didn’t have the—what do you call this? The mark you have. 

Sharon: The hallmark?

Marie: Yes, you had to go to the academy to get this hallmark. We did go there every day, the three of us by car. It was two hours’ drive from our home, but in the end, it turned out I was not that interested, so I changed direction and went to painting and sculpture. Sharon, there is something I’m not that proud of. I met a man—I was 20, 21—my first boyfriend, who I thought was such a fantastic artist and painter that I stopped doing that altogether and I returned to gold and silversmithing. In the end, we worked at home designing, doing all the crafts. 

As a child, I loved to go to my grandfather. He was very well-known for making those figures in gold and silver, and he was invited all over the world, all over Europe to restore church treasures. Although we are Dutch, my father was born in Cologne, because my grandfather at the time worked in Cologne restoring the treasury of the Dome of Cologne. My aunt was born in Brussels in Belgium, where my grandfather worked for the Dome of Brussels, and so on. He worked in Paris. At the same time, what he did—I loved my grandfather—after his work, he was always sitting in museums. You know those people who are sitting there and copying famous paintings? I once went to Paris to a museum, and I saw a painting and thought, “No, this can’t be. My grandfather did this.” It turned out it was a famous painting by Monet. So, my life, my youth, was all in art, in gold, painting and silversmithing. But in the end, I didn’t do all those things because I married, and within a year I had three children because I have twins.

Sharon: Not much time between.

Marie: Not that much.

Sharon: With everything else, yeah.

Marie: In the meantime, my father had died, and my two brothers didn’t make those church things anymore. There was not much interest in those at the time, so they turned to jewelry. Both made jewelry, but my younger brother—I liked him very much; we had a very good relationship—he asked me, “I think you could be a very good shopkeeper and I would like to start a shop in Roermond.” He lived in  Roermond, which is 100 kilometers south of Nijmegen, and he had several shops already in Holland. I said, “O.K., I’ll do this. It’s possible do this while having children.” So, I did this for some time. It was modern jewelry, but not the kind I was interested in. 

At the time, I visited another gallery, and I have to confess I was much more interested in the sort of art jewelry there. So I changed my policy; I went everywhere to look at this sort of jewelry. In the end, my brother was not so happy with my change of thought, and he said, “I don’t want you to have my jewelry anymore,” which, Sharon, was a shame, because it was good jewelry. It sold very well. It was mostly gold and diamonds, but in a modern way. So, suddenly I could hardly survive, because the sort of jewelry we are dealing with now is very hard to sell.

Sharon: I’m sorry—did you say very hard to sell?

Marie: Very hard to sell, yes. It’s really difficult. Anyway, I worked very hard, 12 hours a day. I was always working. My children were complaining. They said to me—I have three children—and they said, “Mom, you hear me, but you’re not listening.” Now, they’re proud of me, and two of them, when I stop, will carry on with the gallery. This is more or less the beginning of this journey. In the very beginning, the work I showed looked like what Galerie Ra showed. In the end it was completely different, because I traveled through Europe, traveled to academies, traveled to artists and so on, and I had my complete own style. It’s what I’m doing now.

Sharon: So just in case people don’t about Galerie Ra, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Marie: Galerie Ra in Amsterdam was a small gallery funded by Paul Derrez and Louis Martin, two of them. Later on Paul carried on on his own, and last year, after I think 40 years, he stopped with his gallery. He had to rent a shop in Amsterdam, and once every five years you have to have a new contract, and he thought, “This is too long for me. In the meantime, I can’t stop because I still have to pay the rent.” So, he stopped, and last week on Koningsdag, King’s Day, he got a medal from the king. He is an officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau; that is how our kingdom is called. I had this honor two years ago with the 40th anniversary of the gallery. In 2019, I also got this order. You can compare it with OBE in Britain.

Sharon: Wow! 

Marie: It is sort of like that. It’s a huge medal. If people would have asked me, “Would you be interested in having anything like this?” I would say, “What nonsense. No, please, no,” but at the anniversary in 2019—

Sharon: The 48th anniversary.

Marie: I was so surprised and I was so proud.

Sharon: That’s quite an honor, wow!

Marie: It was really nice. They said, “We were so frightened you would say”—I told you I can be quite undiplomatic—“Oh, what a horrible medal,” because it’s not a very nice design. It’s old, of course, but I didn’t say it. I was very honored. All of this was based on the fact that I do so much for young artists.

Sharon: You do.

Marie: With the annual graduate show.

Sharon: Tell us about the annual graduate show. It’s so well-known. 

Marie: I started this 30 years ago. I’m now in this beautiful building. It’s a huge building overlooking the River Waal, and it has four stories. At the time, I was in a smaller building, not that small really, but I wanted to do something completely different. I said, “I’d like to work with young people and see if I can guide them or travel with them in their development.” I started making exhibitions that were quite small. I had an academy in Amsterdam. I had Maastricht and Utrecht, and I think Holzheim in Germany. It was quite small, but it in end, it developed. Now, it’s 740, 750 schools from all over the world. Mostly there are between 17 and 19 participants, and all the floors of the gallery are full of young graduate work. 

What can I say about this? In the beginning, there was just the show and the opening. Later on, 10 years ago, I started having a symposium on Monday. The participants came to Holland from everywhere, from America, from Australia, from Japan. So then on Monday, all the participants showed their work to their colleagues. There was this huge show, and, for instance, the first artist took one of her or his pieces out of the show, put it on the next graduate—so he or she was the model—and then they started talking about the work. It went on and on, sort of like—what do you call it?—it went from one to the other. Of course, they were not used to talking in public, so it was quite emotional. People were very nervous, but it was heartbreakingly beautiful. Also the fact that they came from all over the world, it was really something. People traveling from America, it’s not that expensive to travel to Holland, but from Australia, it’s a really expensive trip. From Japan it’s really expensive, so it’s very good they came. 

Then 10 years ago, I started to award the Marzee Prize, the Marzee Graduate Prizes. They were awarded to six to eight people, but sometimes there was so much beautiful work that I had 10 people. The prize consisted of a workshop in Ravary, an estate in Belgium. Some friends of mine built a large workshop there. It’s paradise, where they can work for a whole week. Everyone has a bedroom and we cook together; we talk together. It’s working deep into the night; also drinking deep into the night. Unfortunately, last year we didn’t have this workshop. We are not allowed to travel. This year there will probably not be a workshop, either, so that’s a pity. The borders are still closed. We are not allowed to travel to Germany, which from here is only five kilometers. Belgium is a bit further, but we are not allowed. 

A few years ago, also to try to help young people, I started Intro in Amsterdam. My son, who you just saw, has studied in Amsterdam. He’s a lawyer. I rented a place for him 30 years ago. I still have that place, but it was redone two years ago and made into a gallery workshop. In 2019, I was awarded another prize, Gallerist of the Year 2019 by RISD, Rhode Island School of Design.  

Sharon: Wow! 

Marie: Yeah, maybe you didn’t know that. 

Sharon: Now it’s coming back. Yes, I do remember that.

Marie: It was a real surprise. It was very nice. I had to travel to RISD because they set up a show for me in the museum. Then Tracy, the head of the department, said, “I would like you to participate and organize everything in Amsterdam at Intro. I would like for you to run this gallery for three years.” I was the Gallerist of the Year for three years, and we started to do this. The board liked it very much, so for a year we have had two internships there. You can live there; you can work there. It’s a beautiful workshop and a beautiful gallery. They make exhibitions with the graduates, but last year there was nothing because they had to return to America. They were not allowed to come here, but probably in August or September there will be two people from RISD again. Not everyone was allowed to participate in Amsterdam at Intro. We selected 20 people per year who could show their work and have exhibitions in Amsterdam. I hoped it would help, but we still have to see because it was interrupted by this horrible Covid disaster. That’s my graduate show. There is much more to it. 

Sharon: Administering something like that is such a big task. Coming from a traditional background of jewelry and fine art, what attracted you to art jewelry? How did you transition?

Marie: The jewelry my brother made was not so far from what you call art jewelry. I’m not such a fan of the term art jewelry, although I don’t know what else we should call it. I don’t know. Jewelry was not only the thing I did. When the gallery existed for 10 years, I made an exhibition of combs.

Sharon: Clothes?

Marie: Combs, to comb your hair.

Sharon: Combs, O.K.

Marie: I did this because I thought a comb is a piece you can use, and I had objects in the gallery you could use. I also sometimes had exhibitions with fine arts, and I had jewelry. I had all three in the small gallery at the time, so I thought a comb has all those elements in it. It’s graphic, you can use it as a utensil, and you can wear it as a piece of jewelry. I asked 400 artists in the whole world to make a comb, and I selected 80 pieces for a traveling show. This was really the start of the gallery, because I had a fantastic graphic designer who made a book for it. I had an interior designer who made huge showcases for it. I traveled to museums to ask if they would be interested to have the exhibition after it had been in my gallery. I had the luck that I went to Rotterdam to a famous museum, Boijmans van Beuningen, and they said they would gladly have the exhibition, but they wanted it as a premiere. That was not what I wanted, because I wanted it for my 10thanniversary, and then they said, “No, we want it first.” It was a very good decision to do this, because after that, all the newspapers were full, all the magazines were full, and all the museums wanted to have this exhibition. I have had this exhibition in Tokyo, in Cologne, in Frankfurt, in Pforzheim. My name was there, and then I decided to buy 40 of those pieces. They are now in my collection. My collection is more than 2,000 pieces, I think, and they mirror the history of the gallery. That exhibition was the real start of the gallery. That’s when it started to become international.

Sharon: For anybody who hasn’t been to the current gallery, the building is incredible. It’s worth going just to see the building itself. How long have you been in that building?

Marie: This is a building channeled with history. There is a history to this building. The town of Nijmegen owns the building, and it used to be a grain warehouse in the beginning of the 20th century. It’s around 1900 or even older. They wanted to tear it down to have a hotel here, a Holiday Inn, if you can imagine, but there were some parties in town who wanted culture in this building. I had to fight Holiday Inn. I remember very well, Sharon, that Holiday Inn’s director called me and said, “Ms. Van der Hout, why don’t you let us buy the building and you can have the ground floor?” Sharon, you know those hotels that have a gallery on the ground, those galleries are mostly horrible. In the end, I won the fight. In 1992, the building was mine; I bought it, but it was ruined. I showed the architect the building, and we had to climb on ladders because the town had decided to tear it down and everything was taken out. The wooden floors were taken out. The only thing left were the beams and those beautiful walls, of course, but that was all. I climbed on that ladder and I fell down and broke my back.

Sharon: Oh my gosh!

Marie: I lost part of my memory, which is sometimes annoying. On the whole, it’s O.K., but I broke my back. I could have been in a wheelchair. When I fell down, I woke up after a half hour or an hour and walked to my art gallery. That seemed a bit strange, so they called a doctor and ambulance and I was taken to the hospital. They said, “You’re O.K. You can go because you walked,” and I said, “No, I can’t get up anymore.” Then I had this scan and they saw that my back was broken in three places.

Sharon: Oh my gosh, you got up and walked!

Marie: I was in a cast for a long time. I thought, “Maybe this is too big a task for me. Maybe this was a warning.” Then I thought, “Oh no, I’m going to build an elevator so everyone who is in a wheelchair can see all the floors.” Every day I’m glad I made that decision.

Sharon: The building is so fabulous. Did you have a vision for what you wanted? I’m sure you worked closely with the architect, but what was in your mind?

Marie: I had a bit in my mind, but my ideas at the time were that it should be wide and so on. I had a fantastic architect, a really fantastic architect, and he didn’t want it to be wide; he wanted the walls as they were. We have concrete floors because it was the only possibility. Thanks to this architect—he was a very well-known Dutch architect, by the way, because the town said, “We want this to be a fantastic architectural place. You can invite three architects and we’ll pay for that, but the architect you take, you will have to pay him yourself.” They never paid those other architects, by the way, but never mind. I’m so very glad with this architect, and sometimes I see him. Two years ago, he was married for I don’t know how many years, and he said, “Marie, I want to go visit the buildings in Holland I’m most proud of”—there are several museums he built—“and you have one of those buildings. If it’s O.K. with you, I’d like to have a party here.” He said, “You used it so well. It’s so well done now.” I travel a lot—not at the moment, of course—but every time I come home to my building, I feel relieved. 

Sharon: It’s home. 

Marie: It’s not only home, it’s my first building I remember very well. Once I went on a holiday, and I came back home and I stood in front of my first gallery. I was still in my car in front of the first gallery, and I said to someone, “I don’t want to get out. I don’t want to do it anymore.” Here, every time I come back, it’s rest and peace; it’s fantastic. I don’t know.

Sharon: It is an amazing building 

Marie: And inside it’s fantastic, of course. 

Sharon: You’re in a fabulous location. I want to let people know when they go to the gallery, they may need a lot of time because you have a lot of—it’s not one small gallery.

Marie: No, it’s not. I started collecting from the very beginning. I always bought something from my exhibitions, because if people didn’t do it, I had to do it. I have a huge collection, but the pieces I have from the beginning are maybe not that interesting. Since then, I have the best pieces. It’s fantastic. I have a huge collection of Dorothea Prühl, the necklace I’m wearing now—

Sharon: Say the name again.

Marie: Dorothea Prühl.

Sharon: Dorothea Prühl. It’s a fabulous necklace made of wood.

Marie: Yeah, there was an exhibition two years ago in New York. Do you know Nancy and Georgio?

Sharon: No.

Marie: They have the Magazzino, the museum for Italian Art near New York. It’s a fantastic, beautiful museum. Anyway, they had an exhibition about arte povera in New York, and there was a famous artist—I can’t remember the name; that’s my memory—who gave a talk there. The sculptor was there, a famous artist from Italy, and he came to me and said, “You have a fantastic necklace.” It was this necklace. I told Dorothea, of course, because that’s a famous sculptor and all her work is like this. There’s something else which may be interesting; you know I’m working with schools.

Sharon: No, tell us about that. It doesn’t surprise me, but tell me about that.

Marie: Apart from the private shows. Dorothea Prühl, for instance, she is from Eastern Germany.

Sharon: I just want to interrupt, because some people listening have never heard of Dorothea Prühl, who is one of the leading and most well-established art jewelers. Continue, I’m sorry.

Marie: She was teaching in Halle in former Eastern Germany. I got to know her work because I went to an exhibition in Halle with her and her class and another teacher. I saw the work and thought, “I would like to have this in the gallery.” The well-known German artist who was there with me said, “There’s no way she will do this. She doesn’t like Wessies.” Do you know Wessies? People from the west, Western Europe. But I thought, “You know what? I’m going to call her.” So, I called her, and then came this voice. She was a heavy smoker, Sharon, and I said, “I want to make an appointment with you. Is that O.K?” “Oh, yes.”  It was sort of love at first sight. 

Sharon: We understand.

Marie: Sometimes you have this immediate connection, so I went there. The work she did with her students was fantastic, and then and there I decided I was going to do school exhibitions. I said, “I want you to have an exhibition with your whole class in the gallery for five years. Every spring you will have an exhibition.” They did, and it was always a beautiful exhibition. I bought a lot of pieces for the collection from this exhibition. After those five years, I asked Iris Eichberg. At that time, she was teaching at an academy, and I asked if she would be interested in working with us. She said, “I can’t do it. I’m not happy with the level of what’s being done here.” Then I decided I would go to the Royal College in London first, with Otto Kunzli in Munich. Otto Kunzli had a show here for five years with his students, also in spring. Then I started to make it a bit shorter, three years with the Royal College with Hans Stauffer. He was the head of the department. At the moment, I’m working with Nuremburg. This is our fourth year. At the end of this month, they will set up an exhibition, also a class exhibition. Do you know that I publish magazines of all the exhibitions?

Sharon: Yes.

Marie: And we always buy pieces. I really like to work with students. I really like to do this.

Sharon: What is it that you like about it?

Marie: I don’t know, the way that they’re open to things. I like that they‘re still developing. By the way, the only school where there were more boys in class was in Munich. In Holland, there was only one boy. In Munich, there were a lot of boys. Most schools just have girls, although in the end, the boys got famous. 

Sharon: That’s the way it is, yes.

Marie: Yes, that’s the way it is.

Sharon: I was really interested to read that you don’t like the term art jewelry. We call it art jewelry because, as you say, there’s not another term, but why don’t you like the term art jewelry?

Marie: Because I think if you’re talking about painting, you don’t say art paintings or art culture or art design or arts this and that. It’s a discipline like all other disciplines. You have paintings, and some are art and some are not. It’s the quality that makes it art. It’s sometimes not a quality we see now, but it may be that in a hundred years what we now define as art is not what they think of those pieces later on. I don’t know. For me it’s jewelry, although it’s difficult because jewelry is not a well-respected art form.

Sharon: Right.

Marie: Not at all. Every day I still have to convince people that this is a full-blown art discipline.

Sharon: Because you’re on the front lines, what do you see as the future of this kind of jewelry? Call it avant garde jewelry, call it art jewelry. It’s different than gold and diamonds, in a sense.

Marie: It’s different. The jewelry that sells best is still gold, unfortunately. Not unfortunately, because I love gold, but there is all gold. A few years ago, I was invited to make an exhibition with Vicenza in Italy. Vicenza is the gold town of Italy. It’s where the gold industry is, where they make all those fashion jewelry pieces, and there is a museum. The director asked me, “Will you please make an exhibition for our art jewelry department?” They have design jewelry, fashion jewelry, and art jewelry. The one who made an exhibition before me was Helen Drutt, and she also made an exhibition in the art department. I thought, “Well, O.K., I’m going to make this exhibition, and I’m going to make it only with gold because I’ll show them that there is different work you can make with gold.” She told me, “This is my best exhibition ever.” It was a beautiful golden arts jewelry exhibition in their museum. The last year of the exhibition, unfortunately, the last part, was during Covid. What can you do. 

Sharon: You don’t often see gold in a lot of the art jewelry galleries. Was it difficult to find pieces that you felt belonged in the exhibition?

Marie: No. I showed pieces from my collection. 

Sharon: Your personal collection?

Marie: My personal collection. I have several beautiful golden pieces of Dorothea Prühl. I have several Dutch artists who work in gold. I have enough to show a lot of work. It was 50 pieces, I think.

Sharon: O.K., wow! 

Marie: I have some from the students from Holland, which reminds me there were two pieces, one big color piece from a student from Holland and one big brooch.

Sharon: Do you see an increase in interest with a la carte jewelry and things made of alternative materials, like plastic or wood?

Marie: I think this is returning in jewelry. You can make jewelry out of all sorts of materials, and for me, it doesn’t really matter. The only thing I don’t like so much in jewelry is plastic, because I don’t like plastic very much, but for the rest it’s fine. What I don’t buy anymore is rubber jewelry because it disintegrates. I have rubber pieces in my collection, and they were made of horrible material. I didn’t throw them out; I put them in envelopes and kept them, but no. It’s difficult to get people interested in jewelry. One of the things I did to get people interested in it, I made a series of exhibitions in museums. It’s called “Jewelry, the Choice of, and I followed with the name of the town. I did 10 of those exhibitions in Dutch museums, one in the European parliament in Brussels and another one, my best one, in St. Andrews in Scotland. That exhibition was magic. 

What happens normally is that in Holland, the director of the museum selects 25 women and men who they want to come to the gallery. They come by bus for a whole day, and I select pieces from the collection. It’s like a Tupperware party, but I want them to get interested in jewelry. Obviously, at St. Andrews that was not possible, that people would come by bus to Scotland. So, the director asked everyone to give her a photo, and she wrote something about the work people did so I could get to know who those people were. I found it very difficult to not see someone and not try something on. So what I did, I had these photos in the gallery for three weeks, and I spread them out on my top floor on this large table. Every day I walked past those photos, looked at the photos, and thought, “Who are you? Who are you?” Then the museum came to collect the pieces I selected for those 24 people. I have to admit I was quite nervous, because what if the people didn’t like those pieces and said, “I don’t want to wear this,” or “I will wear it, but I don’t like it”? But I went there, and we had a meeting in one of the castles. Every quarter of an hour, someone came in and I was supposed to give them the piece of jewelry I selected for them, have them put it on and tell them something about this piece, about the artist. After that, they were interviewed for a movie; there was a movie made for this exhibition. I gave a big gold brooch to the first person who came in, a student from Holland, Christine Matthias, I went to her and said, “I’m giving you the sun,” and she had—how do you say it—goose bumps.

Sharon: Goose bumps, yes.

Marie: She said, “How do you know?” “How do I know what?” “Yesterday I saw the sun spinning.” O.K., that was number one. The next one was a man, and I gave him a silver brooch of a lizard, a beautifully made small brooch of a lizard, and his wife said, “Last year he wrote a poetry book about lizards.” I was flabbergasted, Sharon, and this went on and on. Not everyone had this reaction, but a lot did. The British people are good talkers, and I told everyone something about the piece of jewelry. Later on, as I said, there was a movie made, and they had to tell something about this piece. They were so well-spoken about it. They looked closely at those pieces. There was an understanding of what the artist had done. It was my best exhibition to promote jewelry with people. I am friends with the director; we eat together every year when there is a Collect in London—except this year, because there is no Collect. Those experiences make my life as a gallerist so beautiful, so exciting. 

With this Covid disaster we had to stay home, so we had no visitors and the gallery was closed, and I thought, “You know what? I don’t know many people in Nijmegen. I’m focused abroad; I’m focused on faraway places. Who do I know here on my street, for instance?” On the old street of Nijmegen—it’s a beautiful street with fantastic houses—I hardly know anyone. I thought, “I’m going to make an exhibition with 25, 30 people, and I will keep it to my street.” So, now I’m making an exhibition called “In My Street.” A few hours ago, we had the first photographs with a photographer who lives on the street of people who have lived the longest on this street, a man and wife who have lived here for 60 years. We’re doing that now, and we will probably make 35 photos and have an exhibition here.

At this time last year, I invited the former director of the museum of the town who lived on this street. He’s a very introverted man, and I went to him and said, “I’d like you to participate in this exhibition,” and he said, “No, no.” In the end, I convinced him he had to do it, and he said, “But only if the exhibition is in your place,” because he likes beauty. Last week I heard that he died. I want the photos to be taken of people in their own houses. He had this fantastic office in the front of his home, full of books and a huge desk, that was beautiful to photograph in, but he’s not there anymore, so it’s just—

Sharon:Yeah, it’s a shame. 

Marie: Yeah, it’s a shame, but I think it will be a beautiful exhibition, very near home. My idea now is this “In My Street.” I want other streets to make the same exhibition and come to the gallery. Everyone can see “In My Street” and have 25 people. We have a whole grid around town with everyone. Now I’m home on my own street. The first time I went to visit people, someone said to me, “Of course you don’t know anyone. You never come out of your gallery.” It’s not true, but I live on top of my gallery, so I go by elevator, get out on my terrace and go in my house. 

Sharon: You put the pandemic to good use with this.

Marie: Yes.

Sharon: Marie, I could talk to you forever. Thank you so much. This is great, because it’s so hard when you’re at a show to talk to anyone for more than three seconds. It’s great to hear your whole story, and thank you for sharing it with us.

Marie: Thank you, Sharon. There’s much more. 

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Sharon Berman