Pigeon female (1962) Adri Blok

photo Max Dereta
About the artwork

The Pigeon female is a bronze facade made in 1962 by sculptress Adri Blok. It was a gift from former students on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Koningin Wilhelmina Kweekschool in 1957, then still located at the Binnenrotte. But the school on the Binnenrotte was demolished in 2002 and the relief disappeared (see article). The work is inspired by a real Rotterdam pigeon woman, namely Hendrika Trijntje van Ham (also known as “Hannetje”), a striking woman who trudged through the streets around the school building with her corn cart for decades. Not only did she have compassion for the pigeons, stray dogs and cats also got her attention. She was considered an eccentric: children teased her and the windows of her house at Van Alkemadeplein were smashed several times. In 1938, the city council forbade the female pigeons from feeding the birds any longer, because the bird droppings would damage buildings and monuments. During the bombing of May 14, 1940, Trijntje narrowly managed to escape the conflagration, but unfortunately her house did not escape the inferno. During the war years she interfered with the capture of feral cats. After the liberation, she launched a new feeding offensive, which now also involved ducks and swans. Times turned out to have changed: Trijntje could count on sympathy from now on and was now praised as an animal protector. In 1961 singer Tante Riet (to music by Johnny Hoes) performed the song The pigeon lady of Rotterdam from. 30.000 copies of the gramophone record were sold. In 1957, the Queen Wilhelmina Breeding School celebrated the 50 anniversary. They wanted to give the school a pipe organ, but this turned out to be too expensive. That is why with the money raised from the former students a bronze façade of Hannetje van Ham was donated: the Pigeon female. To make way for new construction around the Laurenskerk, the school was demolished in 2002 and the facade image was lost. Rotterdammers, newspapers and finally also municipal councilors wondered where the work had gone. The "female" was found behind a cupboard in a depot. It was completely restored, but the pigeons had really disappeared and had to be cast in bronze again. Real estate owner Robin von Weiler offered one of his facades on the Meent, near the old location of the training school. On November 20, 2018 it is Pigeon female with six new pigeons placed on the facade of the building on the corner of Oppert / Meent, near the 2e floor, above restaurant Napoli.

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About the artist

Adriana Cornelia Blok (Rotterdam, 1919 - 1990) was born in Charlois and was educated at the academy of visual arts in Rotterdam. She was one of the first sculptors in the Netherlands to make concrete reliefs. There are several bronze statues of her in Rotterdam, such as Koos Speenhoff and the Drum bearing.

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The Pigeon woman is back!