Who are you?
My name is Saskia van Herwaarden, maiden name Van Dijk; I was born in 1963 in Maastricht from a Danish mother and a Dutch father. During my early childhood, from 1966 till 1971, we lived in England, hence my love for the English language and the United Kingdom. Every long Summer holiday of my entire youth we spent in Denmark together with our Danish family. I therefore regard Denmark as my second home. These days I live in the Dutch countryside, an area called The Betuwe, together with my husband, our youngest son and our black labrador Django.
What keeps you busy?
For as long as I can remember I love working with my hands, I make up stories and I enjoy tidying up. My mother likes recalling how nothing was allowed out of the house before I'd checked out if if was worth keeping after all or maybe I could use it for something or other. She loves adding that if you need help getting your house in order, i.e. tidying up, you should ask me. Whatever else I've done in my life, I have always continued making, telling and tidying up.
Where do you work and what do you make?
I am mainly busy in my garden studio 'The Birdhut'. I can experiment with all kinds of materials in there. Since 2011 I mainly work with (recycled) cloth, resulting in fabric pieces that can either hang in a space or against a wall and the so-called 'Small Pillows'I sew everything by hand which may seem time-consuming, but in my case less so than with a sewing machine as we would always quarrel. A huge advantage of sewing by hand is that I can do that almost everywhere and it does not make so much noise, wonderful! Before working in cloth I painted in oils, on wooden panels and on linen. I still do watercolours on paper.
Another great project that has been ongoing since 2014 is the doll's house I made in my studio. This is called 'The Dwelling’© which took shape in part on the blog. I hope one day to publish these stories.
How come your weblog is in English?
I have kept a blog since 2011 called ‘‘Tales from the BirdHut’. The main language is English as the first online group I participated in has member spread out all across the globe and our shared lingua franca is English.
How did you get started tidying up in other people's homes?
It all started with tidying up in our parent's house, where I helped out my mum and dad in turn in their respective rooms and cupboards.....During this intimate process they shared many stories and anecdotes. Whilst they are still alive this will continue. With leftover fabric from a bed sheet I made a small pillow, what I call a 'Tangible Memory’© a physical expression of the process. The small pillow contains many stories, stories I record. Over the course of time their friends got interested in my tidy-up services. This is how I got to thinking there might be a business opportunity here. The combination of tidying up and making theTangible Memory '© is where both my worlds collide neatly.
Any future plans?
I would like to publish a book titled 'Ons bezit bezit ons ’© 'Our Possessions Possess Us' (it sounds better in Dutch!) The book will contain stories clients are prepared to share, together with images of their 'Tangible Memories'©. Who knows this might possibly result in an exhibition with the ‘'Tangible Memories’© and the book.