During a visit to the Tassenmuseum in Amsterdam, I photographed Marreke Prins. A lady, wearing a striking yellow coat and ‘golden’ sneakers. Marreke turns out to be a passionate collector and invites me to come and see her at home, because ‘I collect bits and pieces’. I’m curious, so I take her up on the offer.
Marreke lives with her partner Hans on the ground floor of an apartment building. They occupy a floor that was originally intended as a home and a practice space. Therefore it has a lot of space and at the back, it has a fantastic view on the water. Anyway, they need this space, as they are both enthusiastic collectors.
Marreke: “I was born in Staphorst in 1943. On this school picture, you see that I was the only one not wearing traditional clothes. I have beautiful memories of that time. I think it has affected my love for colors. Hans and I have a large book collection. Hans also has a collection of ‘books that are not books’. For example a cover of a book with a hidden sewing kit, a bottle or chocolates. ”
“As I did not know what I wanted to be, I did a year at Schoevers (secretarial school) after high school. As I still did not know what to do after this I worked as an au pair in Versailles for a year. Back in The Netherlands, I worked as an office manager at the International School in Ommen, located in the beautiful Eerde castle. In 1969 I started living in Amsterdam and worked for 28 years in the Stedelijk Museum shop. The last years as a supervisor. This also meant purchasing articles, so of course, I came in touch with many designers and a lot of beautiful objects. ”
“Ik hou vooral van toegepaste kunst, bij voorkeur uit de jaren twintig. Het begint altijd met een enkel stuk, bijvoorbeeld één onderzetter die ik erg mooi vind. Dan kom ik er later toevallig nog eens een tegen. Die er prachtig bij past, en nog eens eentje… Voordat je het weet heb je een serie onderzetters. Zo is het met alles gegaan.”
“The two paintings (left) I bought at a market. Much later I found the piece that I placed above these, on the street. That’s how it happens. In my head, I can see where it fits. At home, I love creating groups together, in shape and color. I create scenes everywhere around me.”
I am very impressed by all the collections of Marreke. And not least because of the orderly arrangement of everything. A chest of drawers filled with all kinds of colored bracelets, it’s just amazing! It turns out that there are more than 400 pieces. Marreke: “A year or two ago, I exhibited my entire collection of jewelry in the OBA in Amsterdam. I filled 20 showcases, all in matching colors.”
“This green bag is my latest purchase, a design by Issey Miyake. I bought the yellow coat in a sale at the Zara. My spectacles (a model from 1920) I bought 25 years ago in a store at the Noordermarkt. As for my clothes, I love the color, I always wear primary colors. I really like an architectural style, such as the style of clothing by COS. Although, if I’m very honest, I’d prefer to be more flamboyant. I wouldn’t mind at all dressing myself as a Staphorster farmer’s wife.”
Following my nose
Marreke loves many different things. Nature, architecture, modern music, but also opera and of course books. Making city trips with Hans and eating in as she calls it ‘dreary cafés’. Small eateries, you find in the back streets of every city and where you can find many locals. What do you like most? Marreke: “Following my nose, that’s how I find the most beautiful places and the best finds.”