Ground necklace | Gold, silver, 17th century buttons and coin, iron, wood, paint, horn | Private collection, NL

According to the saga, the Flying Dutchman sails the oceans in order to find security. In her jewelry, Francis Willemstijn travels through the ages with the same purpose. Her beacons are the eleven generations, known by their full names, which connect her to Cornelis Willemsteyn. Born in 1580, and married to Peterke Jerephaes, Cornelis Wilmsteyn witnessed the dawn of the Dutch nation state: commerce is burgeoning and the shipping trade is bringing wealth into the nation. The Flying Dutchman merely encountered heavy weather and death on its endless journey. Willemstijn's travels into the past do not appear to have offered much comfort either, at least not if we go by the titles she has given these pieces, including The Battle, The Widow, and Grief. Taken together, these works sketch an associative portrait of the seventeenth century, sometimes through the literal representation of sailing ships, sometimes by the incorporation of authentic fragments, such as buttons and coins. Several pieces constitute suggestive collages, characterized by a much freer use of images and materials. Even without guiding titles, they evoke a lost world. The past thus evoked is not a desolate realm: people have found their place in it, represented by the Wilmsteyn family arms. We find only the contours of these insignia, so that they may come to symbolize the countless nameless people who have been swallowed by time. The brooch Jerephaes shows the succession of parents and children as an endless procession marked by a ruthless regularity. In the eponymous necklace, time appears to have mercilessly thrown people together. The ideas underlying these works are reinforced by their design; many parts have been meticulously sawn out of thick silver plate. The edges have not been polished smooth; by showing themselves in their roughness, the pieces acquire a monumental quality. Materials such as ebony and rosewood, joined together with nails and chains, add to their significance. The Battle achieves a beautiful synthesis by combining three silhouettes of sailing ships, bound together with white cotton thread. This thread does not merely make the piece quite literally hang together, but also offers, because of its scale, the association with a ship's cables. Its criss-crossing pattern further suggests storms and war at sea.
The Flying Dutchman will never reach its destination; by undertaking this journey, Francis Willemstijn has immediately found her home. Whatever new discoveries its next stages will bring, it will be a journey to sign up for in full confidence.
Ward Schrijver, 2004

Jeresteijn brooch | Silver, ebony

Jerephaes necklace | Copper, silver, gold, enamel
| Private collection, NL

The Battle
brooch | Silver, cotton | Edition of 7, Private collections, NL & USA

Tulips bracelet | Silver, gold | Private collection, USA

Peterke necklace | Silver, paint | Private collection, NL

For K.
brooch | Silver, ebony
| Private collection, NL

brooch | Silver, rosewood | Private collection, NL

brooch | Gold, silver, ebony

The Widow
bracelet | Silver, cotton, paint | Private collection, NL

brooch | Gold, silver, ebony

The Widow of the Flying Dutchman
bracelet | Silver, cotton | Private collection, DE

brooch | Silver, brass, textile | Private collection, NL

Ground brooch | Gold, silver, 17th century buttons and coin, iron, wood, paint, horn

The Flying Dutchman
brooch | Silver, ebony
| Private collections, NL

Jerephaes, 2004
Graduate Collection Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, NL
Thank you to Iris Eichenberg, Pieter Elbers, Hilde de Decker and Ellert Haitjema

Photography: Francis Willemstijn
Photography brooch The Flying Dutchman and necklace Jerephaes: Eddo Hartmann