Friday, 13 January 2012

Angélique Boter

The Autumnal air is still mild as I make my way through the Rivieren neighbourhood of Groningen. My Vespa is parked a little way off outside a doctor’s surgery because of another disruptive bout of building and road alterations, leaving the street impassable. Trees line the street of my destination interview, and at the base of each trunk is a pool of bright yellow fallen leaves; nature’s annual haircut, leaving branches like un-gloved fingers pointing skywards. The clack of my heels on concrete slabs is intermittently replaced by a swishing sound, like crinoline skirts at a ball, as I wade through the dry pools of yellow to meet illustrator and muralist, Angélique Boter.

A small figure with friendly face opens the door to her second floor flat. I can see from her eyes that the thought of being interviewed has her somewhat unnerved, so I put her fears to rest as we sit down with cups of peppermint tea.

At a young age Angélique often accompanied her father, a window dresser, to his work and assumed that one day she would follow in his footsteps. However, this was not to be, as she was accepted to study drawing at the Academy Minerva in Groningen. Her study years she coupled with a job in the family business, which supplies exhibition stands and walls for public events. Enjoying life drawing and painting the most, she discovered that her strength lay in simple, black and white, line drawings, so she decided to graduate in this.

After Minerva, with a tutor’s comment still ringing in her ears that when asked to include colour in her drawings, they became forced, she decided that she would go in search of colour: “Colour is also a feeling,” she proffers. To this end, Angélique goes out regularly for coffee, alone and armed with a sketchbook and drawing materials, to draw the world at large. Sometimes, she will be in Groningen, other times she picks another city, like Berlin or Prague. With the drawings come stories, thoughts and experiences; a living diary: “It is an experience of what I see”. She hands me a sketchbook filled with sketches - snapshots. One catches my eye that of a little dog in a bicycle basket by some traffic lights; seen in Amsterdam whilst touring the city on her fold-up bicycle. Later, she skilfully pens the memory to the page; the result is pure, simple, the essence of her subject.

The sketches come thick and fast, her writings often leading to the creation of a child’s story book. With several of her ideas, she has taken the illustrative stories to colourful, printed mock ups; all she needs now is a publisher. She hands me one entitled dEUS, which takes place in the Noorderplansoen, and will include an informative treasure hunt through the park, when finally published. For this she has enlisted the help of a biologist to research her facts. 

The idea of layering within her work becomes apparent; she hopes to stimulate the viewer to discover the rest for themselves: “The less I show, the more there is for another to discover.” Playing with words and names, she wants to give children something to think about. Why should a book be obvious after only one reading? As a child grows mentally, why not offer them a book which grows with their fantasy and perception as well; a book can be an interesting re-read at a variety of ages?

In today’s highly competitive world, like many illustrators, Angélique is determined to publish her work. With several illustrative commissions in children’s books already to her name, and regular assignments for a local newspaper, her work is out there for all to see.

Should you want to know more about Angélique her website can be found here:

© Alison Day
First published in the 
Connections magazine #34 Winter 2012
Read & download issue here

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