It was 1989 when I first heard the name Rein van der Wiel. My mother told me that someone had written a book about Ewijckshoeve, the family estate where I grew up. I had been living independently for a few years already, but on the first visit back home I read the book (‘Ewijkshoeve, tuin van tachtig’).
As a child I had never realized that the place where I grew up, also housed other people in other eras. Lives had begun and ended there. Like exactly 100 years earlier when Anna Witsen chose to end her life by stepping into the pond in front of the house on a cold winter morning. And Rein wrote about it. Breathtaking!
When I started my photo essay about the life of Anna Witsen a few years ago (and 30 years after reading the book), I approached Rein. After all, he was the expert about the period in which this drama took place. Although I had never met Rein before, he was immediately at my side with advice and assistance. He lent me his archive material, provided me with stories and enthusiastically corrected me if I deviated from the facts. I am very grateful to him for that.
As a thank you I offered him a photo shoot. And what a coincidence … After exactly 30 years, Rein had just written another book. The novel is about Amsterdam based Amir, the son of a Dutch mother and a disappeared Afghan refugee who drives everyone to despair. A book for which Rein receives a lot of praise, great reviews and is invited for interviews in programs such as Kunststof on Radio 1. And the great thing is … the portrait that I made of Rein now appears on the back of this novel called ‘Amir’.