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Word of the day: handschoen (glove)

Certain objects which are near and dear to us display humanlike behaviour. We allow ourselves to have fond feelings and sometimes we even love them body and soul. Yet, being fickle in nature these objects betray our affections and will very often vanish mysteriously and without a trace. 


I am forever losing fountain pens and caps. I must have spent fortunes on them. Single socks also have a tendency to go missing. They disappear into thin air. I have a purgatory drawer full of single socks who dearly miss their partners.

Now if you happen to be strolling along the Herenstraat in good old Voorburg look in on the art gallery Artibrak where you can see a lot of single gloves. Australian artist Kate Nobbs has an exhibition there. She has a tender spot for these little abandoned orphans which inspired some of the artwork that she has put on display. Be quick because next Sunday, March 9th, the exhibition closes. On Sunday you can meet the artist in the gallery between 15.00 and 17.00 hrs.

HANDSCHOEN (glove) is a peculiar word that I discussed in connection with its related handwarming textile sister-word WANT (mitten).

Why is HANDSCHOEN peculiar? Because some time ago the word was the plural of the single ‘handschoe’. The same goes for SCHOEN of course. You can still see this in the German and English words where SCHOEN is ‘schuh’ and ‘shoe’.

The Dutch must have forgotten this plural form as time went by. There are other words that display signs of sloppy thinking. The plural of ‘egg’, for instance, in Dutch is not ‘eien’ but ‘eieren’. In the Middle Ages ‘eier’ was the plural of ‘ei’. Strictly speaking the Dutch are now saying ‘eggses’ when they say ‘eieren’ (which sounds a bit childish -> eggsieweggsies-like). And when they say ‘handschoenen’ they really say ‘gloveses’ and in the case of ‘schoenen’ they say ‘shoeses’.

Well, this is neither here nor there, because we are discussing Kate’s intriguing exhibition in Artibrak.

I know I’m a bit late with this message because I was distracted by words that have to do with the upcoming municipal elections. But don’t miss the exhibition. Kate’s work is not only touching, it can also be humorous. I hope that some time later I’ll get the opportunity to say more about her work which is clearly born straight from the heart.

I’ll end this posting by quoting from a text called ‘The lost glove project’ which you can read in full at the exhibition.

Kate Nobbs: ‘The glove paintings are pairs of paintings which are both different and fit together. They complement each other, tell the rest of the story, started by the title, and together make a whole. Each of the paintings can stand alone. And together they are more than the sum of their parts. Just as all the lost gloves were pieces of someone’s story, so the paintings complete a story.

‘For a year I have been collecting the lost gloves I stumble upon in my life. Most have been found as I cycle through Rotterdam on the bike paths and roads that make up the map of my life. However, I have found gloves while driving in the car and have stopped and picked them up. That happened one day in Utrecht while I was dreadfully lost. I saw it as a sign that I was getting to the right place. It was a workman’s glove. Lying in the middle of a road. Dropped, discarded I am not sure. It was green with a yellow knitted cotton. Very pleasing and encrusted with cement.

Another glove was found in the wild’s of south western Ireland, on the Beara Peninsula. Completely lost, I was driving with my sister. High on a mountain, in a logging area lay another workman’s glove, yellow and black. Lost or discarded, I am not sure. She saw it and knowing of my collection, stopped the car and I brought it home. It too was a sign that we would find our way.’