A merry makeover for traditional Dutch Whites

Centuries ago the Dutch capitalized on the craze for Asian ceramics by incorporating the motifs into locally made products. Think Delft blue ceramics. Amsterdam artist Marga van Oers brings a delightful modern eye to traditional ceramic tiles, Friese witjes, or Dutch Whites. Her original StoryTiles collection superimposes graphic contemporary figures on Old Dutch Tiles, breathing life and narrative into what was once static.

Her collaborations with the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum extend her lighthearted aesthetic to a broader audience, as her modern heroes ride swans from the Golden Age Masters or scale Van Gogh’s sunflowers.

I dragged my friends about five miles off the beaten path to an industrial area when van Oers has her production facility and warehouse, hoping it would be a quick quest and not too tedious for my friends’ teenaged son and daughter. The production team was hospitable, if perplexed that we had journeyed beyond the museum gift shops and Haarlemmerdijk shops that sell the StoryTiles.

Instead of being bored, my friends were charmed by the StoryTiles. Ben, a free runner, honed in a tile called “Muscleman” in which a figure is scaling a wall. His sister fawned over the lush flowers in the Asian Treasures series.