Life and works
Ruurd Wiersma (1904-1980), born in a nearby community, came to live in this house in the 1950's. He was as a transporter of milk from the cattle farms to the factory, which he did by boat.
One day in 1965, when he already was in his sixties, the oil stove in the sitting room exploded. and all walls got covered with a thick layer of root.
To repair this, Wiersma covered the walls with paper. But he did not like the resulting whiteness of the walls and decided to decorate them.
Four walls, four seasons.....so he made paintings of summer, autumn, winter and spring, evocating memories of his youth and scenes from the region where he lived.
Starting with winter, it took him four years to complete this decoration (not surprisingly, if you consider that Wiersma put a lot of small details in his work and if you know that in the snowy winter scene all snowflakes were painted dot by dot by dot by dot by dot...).
The wall decorated with a spring scene has a green meadow with grazing cattle at the bottom side, a blue sky with remigrating birds on the upper side and in between a lake (which are numerous in Frisia), all together a scene with the typical elements of the frisian contryside.
The summer scene is characterised by a picture with a majestic sun, a wavy sea, a livey beach and a peaceful countryside.
The next picture shows the decoration as it is situated in the interior on the left side of the stove.
Ruurd Wiermsa not only decorated the walls of the house, but also other elements, like furniture, shoes, etc. This kind of creative redefining one's place of living, is typical for creators of outsider art environments.Wiersma probably wasn't aware of classifications like outsider art, nor is it likely that he did know about creators of outsider environments elsewhere in the world. He just liked to make his paintings.
After he had finished the Four Seasons, Wiersma was stimulated by people around him to continue his artistic activities.
He began making paintings, working with enamel for bikes on hardboard and triplex . In the last ten years of his life he has made some 300 paintings.
He liked to do biblical scenes, such as above Garden of Eden.and he made a lot of paintings that evocated scenes of daily life in Friesland.
In the Netherlands, where in the 1980's outsider art was not so well known, Wiersma is listed as a naive painter.
Ruurd Wiersma's legacy is being cared for
A number of his works are in private collections (he could just give them away). But some forty of his paintings still can be seen in the house where he lived, which -as said- nowadays has been transformed into a museum.
Ruurd Wiersma had legated his house and some money to the hospital where he was treated before he died.
The locals campaigned to preserve the house and a foundation was formed (1981) to take care of it, its decorated interior and Wiersma's paintings. This foundation could buy the house from the hospital for a symbolic amount (1982).
A problem the museum's board faces nowadays is how to preserve technically the Four Seasons. In this old house, with its thin walls, the wall decorations are very sensitive to moisture. Fortunately, funds have become available to tackle this problem.
* The museum's website (in dutch)
* Alle dagen zondag (All days sunday), documentary film (1978, 30') made by Marijke Jongbloed (Dutch Film Academy/IKON TV) and shown on dutch tv in 1978, with Wiersma talking about his artwork (published on Youtube dec 2012 by the Frisian broadcasting company Omrop Fryslân (documentary starts at 0.45")
* Dutch magazine Out of Art in it's issue of 2014-2 (dec 2014) has an article about Wiersma by Nico van der Endt; translation into english in the english section
first published dec 2009, revised oct 2010, august 2011, jan dec 2014, jan 2015, april 2017
Ruurd Wiersma Hûs
9111HB Burdaard, Friesland, Netherlands