Spotlight

Feature Artist and artistic therapist Anniek Verholt

Championed by Anil Seth
Visual Arts
The Wick - Feature Artist and artistic therapist Anniek Verholt
Above  
ONES TO
WATCH
ONES TO
WATCH
The Wick - Anniek Verholt
Above  Anniek Verholt
Interview
Anniek Verholt
Photography
Paul Greenleaf
11 January 2022
Interview
Anniek Verholt
Photography
Paul Greenleaf
11 January 2022
Anil Seth has been a neuroscientist for more than two decades, leading research into the biological basis of conscious experience, with a strong focus on perceptual experience – how and why we experience the world, and the self, the way we do. After meeting Dutch contemporary artist Anniek Verholt when she was exhibiting her work at her Brighton home, as part of the annual Artists Open Houses event held each May, he discovered they were both fascinated by the relationship between an artwork and its beholder.
Anil Seth says: “I was immediately struck by the clarity, presence, and depth of her work, and we fell into conversation about the relationship between art, perception, and neuroscience. I’d always been intrigued by the art-historical notion of the ‘beholder’s share’ – the essential contribution that the viewer – or participant – brings to the experience of an artwork. For me, this notion had strong echoes in the neuroscience of perception that I was working on and writing about. Anniek’s paintings – and her overall approach – struck me as the perfect artistic complement to my own scientific and philosophical ideas. We were both asking the same questions, but using our own tools and ways of thinking.”

From an early age Verholt developed an interest in the therapeutic quality and role of art and art-making. Instead of accepting an offer at the Academy of Art in Arnhem, she decided to study art therapy and began creating abstract paintings often inspired by her research and studies in colour and psychology. She has continued to push the boundaries of abstract painting techniques as well as teaching and collaborating with mental health organisations, scientists and cultural institutes to promote the therapeutic use of art.

Verholt says: “The mind fascinates me – how we perceive ourselves and the world around us – and more specifically how we interact with and experience art. This has led me to the work of pioneering scientists in the field of neuroaesthetics and neuroscience.” Verholt has also teamed up with Anil Seth to explore visual and emotional responses for a new body of work.

Seth says: “I’ve followed her work ever since we first met and have been ever more impressed by its aesthetic balance, by her exploration and use of colour to evoke emotions and provoke questions, and I’ve learned so much by talking with her about her process – in particular about when a piece can be considered ‘finished’. Anniek’s work exemplifies all that is good about abstract art, and it’s been a privilege to get to know her, and her art, so well.

“She is currently developing an artistic response to a new ‘experiment’ I am working on as part of a large-scale public art science project (‘Dreamachine’, part of Unboxed 2022) in which we use flickering light to produce intense visual and emotional experiences – when people have their eyes closed! This is a unique challenge, and I am excited to see what Anniek comes up with. I am sure it will be brilliant.”

Verholt will also be participating in a group show at Art Number 23 Gallery in Athens next month, showing several pieces from her ‘Blue and White Composition’ series.

About the champion

The Wick - Anil Seth

As a professor of neuroscience at the University of Sussex, co-director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research program on Brain, Mind and Consciousness and editor-in-chief of the academic journal Neuroscience of Consciousness, Anil Seth has published more than 180 research papers and is recognised as being in the top 1% of researchers in his field. A celebrated author as well as neuroscientist, his book, Being You: A New Science of Consciousness, was named 2021 Book of the Year for The Economist and The New Statesman.

“Anniek’s work exemplifies all that is good about abstract art.”

Place of Birth

Doetinchem, The Netherlands

Education

BA in Art Therapy at University of Applied Sciences in Leiden and Glass MA at the University of Sunderland

Awards, Accolades

Artist in residence at the Art and Design department in Barnet College, London (2005), public art commission for Sunderland Council – Britain in Bloom (2004) and EU scholarship for Glass MA, University of Sunderland (2003)

Upcoming exhibitions

Group show at Art Number 23 Gallery, Athens in February 2022

Spiritual guides, Mentors

The teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat-Zinn move me as does poetry by Rumi

Advice

Be yourself, every journey is unique.


Share story
READ MORE
The Wick - Elsa Rouy
Spotlight

Feature Provocative, London-based painter Elsa Rouy

Visual Arts
The Wick - Mircea Teleagă
Spotlight

Feature Romanian painter Mircea Teleagă

Visual Arts
The Wick - Bokani (Nishant Shukla)
Spotlight

Feature Painter and digital artist Bokani

Visual Arts
The Wick - Martha Freud
Spotlight

Feature Ceramicist Martha Freud

Visual Arts
The Wick - Tomo Campbell (courtesy of Cob Gallery)
Spotlight

Feature Contemporary painter Tomo Campbell

Visual Arts
The Wick - Victor Seaward
Spotlight

Feature RCA graduate and artist Victor Seaward

Visual Arts