Elzemieke De Tiège


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I hail from the flat plains of the Netherlands. As a child I invented several hair accessories, typed long & complicated stories on my typewriter and developed a sleeping technique to keep my face paint in tact for days on end. It involves clingfilm.

I always wanted to be something dreamy when I grew up. No nurse. No scientist. Nothing boring like that. I was going to be a lone warrior who lived by her own rules and had adventures which she'd type up afterwards. That sort of thing. It may be worth speculating about whether I actually did grow up.

A professional artist once visited our school and told me I had talent. "Yes", I remember thinking, "I do" (note the youthful confidence). But, obviously, this meant trouble. Like it or not, creative talent rarely ends up in a cubicle with 2.3 children and a pension plan. It's always exciting, but never easy.

The first real trouble started in art school. The dream of studying art had sustained me all throughout adolescence but when I was finally "in", I realized I hated it. I felt stifled, fake, unhappy. At the end of the year I fled to Denmark for a Summer job and, to my own surprise, I never came back.

I spent a few years traveling, which filled a hunger I hadn't been able to satisfy in art school. It was inspirational and unexpected and often quite humbling.

I'll admit that, in hindsight, I'm a little embarrassed by my youthful ignorance. Take the distressing fact that I arrived in Ireland assuming it was part of England. Or, when I tried to cross a Polish border right after 9/11 with a completely illegible passport (at that time passports were still written in ink, which would wash away at the merest suggestion of water).

Eventually, I landed in London and stayed put. During my studies at the London University of the Arts I became obsessed with cinema. I watched, acted, wrote, assisted and, slowly but surely, I directed.

The independent film scene was incredibly liberating - it allowed me to exploit every creative curiosity I had. The definite milestone of these years is a short film I made, called "Babydoll". If you subscribe to my newsletter you'll receive a special link and password with which you can watch it (elzemieke.com/newsletter)

Then, something unexpected happened. The financial world collapsed, savings dried up and living in London became unsustainable. In truth, I'd been feeling restless for a while - that travel bug really is a nasty sort - and decided to take the economic crisis as a good excuse to pack up and go.

My feet touched ground again in Munich, where I studied Art Therapy at the Academy of Fine Arts. Here's a tip for when you're interested in exploring the realms of therapy: do it in a language you can actually speak. Don't get me wrong, it was a very interesting time and I would do it all again, albeit in English.

Of course I did learn a thing or two. In fact, I don't know where I'd be without without the experience, but once I graduated I was more than happy to return to where I once started. Aka: doing strange things, writing stories about it, and sticking cameras in peoples faces.

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