• Nathalie narrates: Once upon a time, in a little village, in the hart of the Dutch countryside, there was a place where elderly people lived happily together. They lived there for years and years in their little rooms with a bed in the corner and a chair in front of the window with a view on the town square. There they sat each day watching the people passing by going about their own business. Children played their own games, unaware of the tender smiles they produced on the wrinkled faces behind the windows. With every car that drove up the square to park they wondered if it might bring a nice visitor, maybe a relative or an old friend, or at best the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren of course. One at the time please, because all of them together will be to much for those wrinkled heads. They try to remember their names and who is whose. Little pictures in pretty frames on the side cabinet show happy faces of each one of them. The wrinkled minds try to keep up with their dates of birth so there will be a little present waiting for them if they would come to visit.

    So they sat there, in their comfy chairs, gazing through their windows, thinking of the old days. Did they remember the moment when the very first car drove down their street enticing everyone to come out of their houses and see the miracle on four wheels. Could they remember the harsh times during the war or is that a blur due to the remembrance of their first love and the birth of the children. How busy life had become all of a sudden. Did they remember the sixties even though it was only because of the songs they were not allowed to listen to. And did they remember, at the end of that decade, when the two parishes were joined together and became their village. It was about then when, in the centre of this new development, this old peoples home was build, big, fancy and modern.

    They do remember that they never thought that the time would come when they call that place their home. It was all too far into the future to ponder on. Now it all seems like yesterday when wrinkleless faces looked back at them from their mirrors. Now they feel their body aches when they try to move about. There is no need for the reflection in the windows to remind them of their age. It’s even obvious when they look around. Their rooms did not seem so big, fancy and modern anymore. The building had become out of date too and no longer considered suitable to house the elderly. What was once new was now ready for demolition. That meant they had to move house for one more time. Leaving the place they knew for such a long time. Knowing that it was necessary and it was for the best did not make the move any easier. Having to build up a new life in again a new and unknown place. Not knowing what was going to happen and how it would be was something no one looked forward to. But the old building would not go down without a party, some kind of celebration and thanks to what the building had given to so many people of the village for so many years.

    With these thoughts came a suitable plan, a great plan.

    As soon as the elderly had packed up their belongings and were settled in their new home, more than fifty artists were invited into their old building. That is the moment when I came into this story. Being an artist I was invited too for this project. So I chose one of the rooms to create something Arty, like artists do. We had five days to work on it. Then, in the weekend, the building would be open to the public before closing its doors for the last time and the sledgehammers would do their job. The building and the elderly who used to live there were a great inspiration to all of us. When you entered my new room you could still smell their perfume, like old people do. When you were quiet you could still hear them reflect on their lives. And you could even recognise some of their wrinkles in the window, especially when it rained. It all told the story of long forgotten memories and long lived lives.

    I decided to make this room an installation, a Tribute to the Wrinkle. I ordered a big roll of brown packing paper to cover the walls with. While waiting for this to arrive, I went to see the elderly people in their new home. During my visit, while drinking lots of cups of coffee and chatting about everything and nothing, I couldn’t help noticing their hands. Lovely, soft and wrinkly, folded together in their laps, like they had been there for many years. Some of them relaxed and quite open in their posture, others tensed, like in fear or in an ongoing urge to pinch themselves. Other hands seemed to have taken on the same pattern as the dress that was worn and became kind of invisible. These hands had worked, caressed and corrected. They showed character and history and told me more than one could tell me. I asked if I could photograph them, just as they were.

    Back at the former old people’s home I wrinkled the brown packaging paper in a big bucket of wallpaper glue and stuck it to the walls and ceiling of the room. I covered every socket, light switch and even the radiator. This formed the backdrop for the photos of the hands I had printed in black and white. The sunlight enlightened the wrinkles in the packaging paper while it travelled through the room. This was my tribute to the wrinkle, to a life well lived, and I was ready and proud to show it.

    That weekend, when the doors opened, more than two thousand visitors came to see what the artists had created. Among them were people who had worked there, people who used to have relatives in the home or were just curious about the project. And of course the elderly, who had just moved out, came to see what we had done with their old home and for a last goodbye. After receiving many compliments about my installation I could look back on a sucessful project with many happy thoughts, good memories and a lot learned. Just before the doors closed for the very last time I collected my photos. The rest went down with the building when the demolitionists did their job.