Welcome to The Cuckoo Jar, a blog by Nanna Koekoek - illustrator, music- and flea market junkie.
Head over to my website to take a look at my portfolio. And don't hesitate to get in touch!

31 May 2012

ZELF again

Today kids museum Villa Zebra sent me some really nice pictures of their semi-permanent exhibition ZELF! The exhibition consists of six interactive art installations that are tucked away in a big box. By opening one or more doors these installations are revealed and 3-6 year olds can get their hands dirty (metaphorically speaking). Together with Renée Reijnders and Geeske de Graaff I created a hospital where kids can construct new human beings with the fabric body parts

The only time I've seen the exhibition was when it was heaving with kids. Which is how it should be of course. But it is nice to see it in a serene setting - it will probably never be as peaceful again as in this photo shoot...
 ∧ The installation next to us is by famous children's book illustrator Thé Tjong-Khing. I'm absolutely thrilled my work is exhibited next to his; he is one of my heroes!! 

Photos by Hester Blankenstijn and Mike Bink.

23 May 2012

Fruit fabric

Great find at a charity shop yesterday! They're curtains, but I think I'll make a full skirt out of them. That's right, I have no problem wearing curtains.

21 May 2012

Gig spree

You could say I've been on gig spree: in 9 days I've seen about 14 bands, varying from jazz to indie, from hip hop to folk, from garage rock to gypsy.

My spree kicked off by Fránçois & The Atlas Mountains. I had to battle the elements to get to this gig, but once inside the venue the atmosphere couldn't have been in greater contrast with the miserable weather outside. Fránçois and his boys gave an ecstatic performance, including synchronized dance moves and lots of percussion. I was shocked they opened with my favorite song, but it turned out this was the tamest song in their set! I loved the support as well: Stranded Horse, a singer-songwriter who, rather than plucking on a guitar, plays the kora, a West African instrument.

A few of the other highlights: the Dino Plasmati/Carlo Fraccalvieri Open Quartet from Italy that played some wonderful jazz music during the opening of my little exhibition, hearing folk-gypsy-jazz five piece Miss Maud's Folly  play during a special evening - curated by oldest-record-store-in-the-world Spillers - in the Cardiff Museum, and seeing Quiet Marauder play their kettles, pots, pans, box filled with stones, guitars and melodica TWICE this week. 

Fool by Miss Maud's Folly

Then last Wednesday I found out that my favorite Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon was in town that evening supporting Japandroids. I met Cadence Weapon aka Rollie Pemberton a couple of years ago when I was living in Berlin and was one of the five people who attended his poorly promoted gig in some dodgy club. After he'd finished his (awesome!) performance he shook the hands of all the five attendants. My boyfriend and I got chatting to him and took him to couple of bars in Kreuzberg and had a lovely evening. Much to my surprise he still recognized us after all these years, and we met again after the show for some drinks. We tried to get a nice picture of us, but this is the only decent one in which I look like an overly excited fan and totally uncool. Then again, that's exactly what I am.

I love his unusual flow and his atypical choice of samples and beats, taking lots from electronic and dance music. For his latest record, Hope in Dirt City (to be released next week) he's been working with friend and neighbor Grimes, so I'm expecting the hip hop boundaries to be pushed even further on this long player. 

18 May 2012

Live senior punk rock life drawing

 (click to enlarge

Totally random but highly enjoyable evening in the backroom of The Royal Oak in Cardiff last Friday. With my mate Matt from Quiet Marauder (who gave a brilliant performance themselves that night) joining these old geezers on percussion. One guy was sound asleep throughout the whole set haha.

11 May 2012


A while back I finally got around to putting some shelves up in my studio to display my collection of zines and illustration related magazines. And recently I finally got around to taking a picture of it. I now I'm finally getting around to actually blogging about it! I'm pretty pleased with it, I wouldn't go as far as to say it ties the room together, but it definitely brightens the place up. 
(click to enlarge)  
On the upper shelf, from left to right: The Illustrated Ape, Can your Monkey do the Dog by yours truly, The Cardigan Heart by Lizzy Stewart, Skelet Man by Geeske de Graaff, Brain Blood Volume 2., by Ian Watson, Did you know that Flapjacks can Rhyme? by Sarah Edmonds, Birds of a Feather by Saskia Haex, Monotonos by Albert van Nood, ...

On the lower shelf: a couple of zines I bought at Desert Island in Brooklyn NY, a zine I got through my subscription to Zine of the Month, Nobrow magazine, Egel & Ballon by Jeroen Funke, a couple of issues of A Sick Zine and Zo Ordinair by Gees Voorhees.

Special mention goes out to A Sick Zine, a zine that was born in 2010 during a workshop I taught with Geeske at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Tonight the boys of A Sick Zine will be presenting their fifth issue - De MEGAZINE - in style at Roodkapje, Rotterdam.  The release will coincide with the opening of an exhibition on A Sick Zine, which is up till June 17th. They also made a great video to show you how the zine is made. WITHOUT THE USE OF A COMPUTER (this was the golden rule in our workshop and I'm happy to see they're still sticking with it)!

Their zines usually sell like the proverbial hot cakes, so (pre-)order from their website!

8 May 2012

The biggest fleamarket on planet earth

So on Queen's Day Holland is basically one big flea market. I tried to take some of pictures of it on the day,  but it was pointless - photo's simply can't convey the vastness of it. Instead imagine this: streets and streets full of secondhand stuff, as far as the eye can see. It goes on for kilometers and kilometers. And this in every village, town and city in The Netherlands. It's unbelievable. It's heaven.

Like with charity shops you need to go to the more swanky areas to find the best deals, and in the case of Amsterdam this is the southern part of the city. Most of the sellers are just ordinary people: groups of friends or families who had a spring cleaning try to flog their surplus on the streets for bargain prices. But you'll come across all sorts of stuff and sellers. You'll get the occasional antiques trader with highly priced but quality stuff (I drooled over a snakeskin record case, but the guy wanted €50 for it. Alas...). Kids get creative trying to earn a few quick bucks by selling lemonade and homemade cupcakes, by having you play their games (having water balloons thrown at them was popular this year), or by giving a musical or dance performance. All very cute. There were stylists offering clothes, shoes and accessories, and even a famous writer (Abdelkader Benali) had set up a stall where he was selling books from his private collection. I was kind of gutted because the very first item I had picked up that day was his book Bruiloft aan Zee. Because I didn't feel like carrying it around all day  I left it. Who could have known I could have had this well-read copy signed by the author only an hour or two later!

For various practical reasons I couldn't buy as much as I'd liked to, but I am very pleased with the few items I got that day:

 ∧ embroidered cushion €0.50

 ∧ 1960s Danish or Finnish design fondue set €5

 ∧ €1! The heels were a bit battered but nothing a marker couldn't fix.

 ∧ bubblegum new wave from 1982 by The Go Go's on vinyl €0.50

7 May 2012

Nothing rhymes with orange

For one day a year the entire country of The Netherlands turns orange. This is on April 30th, when we celebrate the queen's birthday. Because Van Oranje is the royal family's last name we all dress up in the most impossible color on planet earth. It's actually the late queen's mother's birthday that day, but as Queen Beatrix' Bday is in January they decided to stick with April because of the greater chances of good weather. And for some reason it is always beautiful weather on Koninginnedag (Queen's Day)!

∧ The food is orange.

∧ The only day you're allowed to wear orange Crocs!

Now I'm by no means a royalist, but I think Queen's Day is the best day of the year in Holland. Because we celebrate her royal highness' birthday by turning the country into one big flea market slash street party. It is the one day of the year that people are allowed to sell their junk on the street without a permit (garage are yard sales are non-existent in The Netherlands) and the Dutch do it en masse! It is a national holiday and everybody gets a day off. So everybody gets pissed the night before (Queens night). I love it.

For the last few years I hadn't been in the country on April 30th, so the time was high to go this year. I decided not to go wave to the Queen in my hometown Rhenen (where they honored her with - I kid you not - a contest toilet bowl throwing!); instead I opted for Amsterdam. Because that's where the party is really at. 

In the weeks leading up to the big day I had obsessively kept an eye on the weather forecast. Because when it rains all the festivities 'fall into the water', as we say in Holland. But as by the grace of God it was a gorgeous, hot, sunny day. It had been horrible weather on the days prior and the rain came again in the night, which proves in my opinion our queen is truly blessed!

Queens Night was great fun, watching my brother play with his band on Leidseplein till the wee hours (as we headed back home people were already setting up there stalls for the flea market!). On Queens Day we roamed the flea market for hours, slowly making our way from the posh area of Amsterdam South to the city centre. There we watched the boats on the canals, wandering from one street party to another, while sipping Heineken and having Dutch delicacies such as poffertjes (puffy mini pancakes with butter and icing sugar) and broodjes kroket (deep-fried meat ragout covered in breadcrumbs on a white bun). Best. day. ever.

∨ Bumber to bumber on the canals.

∨ Singing along to the Dutch tearjerking music in a showerhead attached to a scoot mobile.

6 May 2012

The gallery-part of the Jazz Gallery

I've got a little group exhibition coming up over at  A Shot in the Dark - one of Cardiff's nicest coffee cafes. The exhibition is part of the Jazz Gallery, a weekly jazz night that aims to provide a platform for local jazz musicians and artists. The other two participants are Dan Hamilton and Nicole Miles, with whom I share a studio at the Morgan Arcade Studios.

The opening is Sunday May 13th at 20.00 and there will live music by the Dino Plasmati/Carlo Fraccalvieri Open Quartet. It would be lovely to see you there, but don't worry if you can't make it, the exhibition is on till August 4th.