The continuous developments in the field s of industry, infrastructure, and housing in Rotterdam often have a negative impact on the city’s nature. The construction of the A16 motorway through the natural habitat Lage Bergse Bos, and the new residential buildings on the edges of the green Kralingse Bos area are but a few examples of this. At the same time the question of whether Rotterdam The Hague Airport should or should not make way for a park, shows the urgency to tackle problems like climate change and the human impact on the nitrogen cycle. For Drawn: Rotterdam! Urban Jungle the city artists have captured locations, people, and initiatives t hat either highlight the major contrasts between city and nature, or instead attempt to close the gap between the two.
As a city artist, Xaviera Altena (1991) focused her attention on four Rotterdammers involved in green initiatives in the city, such as the Schapenclub (Sheep’s club) on the DakPark (roofpark), and the NK Tegelwippen (national paving stone removal championship). She first extensively researched her subject matter on the basis of interviews before transforming her digital portraits into lenticular images This special way of printing produces a sense of movement that is exemplary of the influence the portrayed Rotterd ammers have on their environment: they allow everything around them to grow and flourish.
Johan Kleinjan (1974) depicts the natural habitat Eiland van Brienenoord. This small wildlife area directly underneath the busy motorway bridge Van Brienenoordbrug is home to grazing Highland cattle, as well as unusual species of birds and butterflies. But what would happen to this place if, in accordance with the current plans, a third city bridge is constructed at De Esch? In his detailed and colourful drawings, Kleinjan combines images he found on Google Maps with his own documentation of what he came across in the nature reserve. This has led to surprising perspectives in his work.
As a city artist, Nuno Orlando (1990) travelled to the quarantine area Heijplaat. In this place right in the middle of the port, various artists have their studios, and at the same time take care of the site’s extraordinary natural habitat The question remains whether both the
artists and the natural habitat will still be t here in a couple of years as the Port of Rotterdam has all kinds of development plans for the area. In his drawings Orlando depicts what he sees in an impressionist way.
Rotterdam city artists
Even before the bombing of 14 May 1940, but especially during the post war reconstruction period, city artists have been captu ring changes in the city of Rotterdam Until the end of the 1980s, the Rotterdam City Archive annually commissioned artists to do so. Since 2018 this tradition was reinstated in collaboration with CBK Rotterdam, after which city artists would once again contribut e works to the Rotterdam City Archive ’s collection. This year, the city artists were selected by a jury consisting of the artist Hedy Tjin, Ove Lucas (CBK Rotterdam), Jantje Steenhuis and Wanda Waanders (Rotterdam City Archive), and David Snels (Kunsthal curator). After the exhibition, the city artists’ drawings will be included in the City Archive's collection and become part of the Rotterdam Collection.