Birthe Leemeijer (Amsterdam, 1972) lives and works in Haarlem, The Netherlands. During her study at the Rietveld Academy and Sandberg Institute, Birthe won the Rietveld Academy Prize in 1996 and the Prix de Rome Base Prize for Art and Public Space in 1997. In 2016 she earned a professional landscaping degree at the Wellant College in Houten.
For her project L’Essence de Mastenbroek (2005-2012) Birthe Leemeijer searched for the Mastenbroek Polder in its most concentrated form. This resulted in a perfume that aims to evoke the various degrees of life in the Mastenbroek polder. The residents in the Dutch polder Mastenbroek- primarily dairy farmers who have been working in the polder for generations- volunteerd to participate in the Essence club. As members of this club they sourced the essentiel elements that would eventually make up L'Essence de Mastenbroek.
Since its launch in 2005, the perfume has been sold across the globe. This fluid polder has travelled to far-fetched outposts of the world and mingled with global landscapes, the desires and even the memories of individuals and communities who heve never stepped foot in Mastenbroek.The source of L'Essence can be traced to one of Mastenbroek's three waterways, resting on a hillocked foundations of an abandoned farm. Once a year the source is open to the public and anyone who has ever purchased the perfume can refill their bottles for free.*
*The residents of Mastenbroek are de guardians of the source and are responsible for opening it to the public once a year
Recent projects from Birthe Leemeijer include ‘Vanishing Staircase’ in Utrecht’s Zocherpark, a ‘collapsed’ staircase that connects the Centraal Museum with the water on the Stadsingel. Created in close collaboration with ecologists, this work will integrate itself into the landscape as time goes by. In February 2019, Birthe unveiled her ‘Ice Fountain’ in the Northern Dutch town of Dokkum as part of Leeuwarden/Friesland Cultural Capital of Europe 2018. The fountain’s ice formations respond to weather patterns – at times thin, transparent and reflective, at times white crystals. Streams of water continuously seek out new paths, ice flowers form only to quickly disappear again, ice formations stacking, one atop the other. The wind, sun, rain and humidity all play a role in the fountain’s appearance, determining the size and visibility of the sculpture’s ice formations.