Pigeon female (1962) Adri Blok

Max Dereta
About the artwork

The Pigeon female is a bronze facade sculpture in 1962 made by sculptor Adri Blok. It was a gift from former students on the occasion of the 50 anniversary of the Queen Wilhelmina Breeding School in 1957, then 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 her streets through the streets around the school building for decades. She not only had compassion for the pigeons, but also stray dogs and cats got her attention. She was considered a strange person: children jeered at her and the windows of her house on Van Alkemadeplein were smashed several times. In 1938 the city authorities forbade the pigeon females to feed the birds any longer, because the droppings of the birds would damage buildings and monuments. During the bombing of 14 in May 1940, Trijntje barely managed to escape the blaze, but her house unfortunately did not escape the inferno. During the war years, she was involved in catching feral cats. After the liberation she started a new feed offensive, which now also included ducks and swans. Times have now 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) brought 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 room for new construction around the Laurenskerk, the school in 2002 was demolished and the facade was lost. Rotterdammers, newspapers and finally city councils wondered where the work had gone. The "woman" 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 nursery school. On November 20 it is 2018 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 received her education 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!