When we, Miek Zwamborn and Rutger Emmelkamp, were offered a ‘one in a lifetime’ chance to look after a small house on the south west tip of the Ross of Mull looking out over the Atlantic Ocean we did not need much time to think. We soon left Amsterdam and shipped our books and tools and other essentials to Scotland. We only had vague plans of what we could do there but we trusted our optimism, problem solving capacity and resilience.
During the months before our departure we wrote down in a small notebook all our thoughts about what to do and how to survive. This became an eclectic collection of ideas but one thing stood out: we felt so lucky to be able live on this beautiful remote spot surrounded by wild nature; we wanted to give something back. We wanted to set up something that would contribute to the area and would allow us to share it with other people.
One of the first manifest rules we set for ourselves was to work with the elements, not fight them. To understand which initiatives would thrive we needed nature to guide us and we needed to listen to and interact with the landscape. Drafting and planning a business concept was clearly not in our nature. For us the best way to find out what to do was simply to start and mobilize all our skills. From the first days, we’ve immersed ourselves in as many aspects of the land as possible. Alone and with others.
We’ve explored the boundaries of the estate and its wild and overgrown crevices, we’ve slept outdoors, mapped the area meticulously, swam the shores, dived, gathered and ate seaweed (and shore weeds), worked with sheep alongside the local farmer, fished and cooked on the rocks. We’ve measured the depth of peat fields, monitored various lichen species and studied the birds in the area. Closer to our new home we’ve build a guest house, started an organic vegetable garden, planted many native broadleaf trees and opened a (semi public) library. Through all these interactions we have slowly begun to see the opportunities the land has to offer.
We’ve started to invite people to share and sharpen our vision and look at the landscape through different eyes. During the first two years, we’ve worked with a biologist, an anthropologist, an ecologist, an experimental computer programmer, a weaver, a chef, a fashion designer and jewellery maker, a painter and animation artist, a baker, a gardener and a philosopher. Looking back, we realized that we have come to a point that we can say: This is what we want to do, Knockvologan Studies exists and it has started!
is a Dutch artist, novelist, bookmaker and translator. Her work focuses on landscape. Whilst carrying out field research, she travels through time and space. By sifting fragments out of historical archives and studying travelogues and scientific reports, she creates frame tales in which drawings, sculptures, raw material and books play a crucial role. Within these installations a photo pops up within a poem; a performance turns into a book. Each work claims its own place within the story, becoming an indispensable branch of the greater rhizome. Zwamborn has published the novels Oploper (2000, Meulenhoff), Vallend Hout (2004, Meulenhoff), De duimsprong (2013, Van Oorschot), the poetry book Het krieken van sepia (2008, Slibreeks), the seaweed anthology Wieren (2018, Van Oorschot) and many artists books. Her visual works have been exhibited in solo and group shows in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Ireland.
Website Miek Zwamborn
is a Dutch artist, teacher and program maker. He studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the mid 90s and finished his BA in fine arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam in 2001. He has had solo and group exhibitions in The Netherlands and abroad and has initiated multiple group exhibitions. Alongside his studio practice, Rutger has been teaching in various art disciplines for more than ten years and was appointed head of the Jewellery Department in 2013. In 2017 he decided to resign in order to fully dedicate his time and energy to Knockvologan Studies.
We could never have launched Knockvologan Studies without the generous, kind, inventive and unlimited support of our families, Judy & Giles, the Van der Sluis family, Jozee, Jimmy, Patrcia & Paul, Anna & Jim, Rachel & Glenn, Cait, Jo and the Jan van Eyck Academie, the Mondriaan Fund and the Dutch Foundation for Literature.