The art of collecting

The story of a collector

Interview with Ides

No collecting, no museum

In its new collection presentations, M is focusing on the art of collecting. The museum has invited several passionate collectors to share their collections with our visitors. One of them is the 75-year-old Ides, who collects rooster tiles, tiles made in Delft that have a rooster on them.

How did your fascination for these tiles develop? 

‘There is something very special about collecting. I think my fascination for rooster tiles was born out of a more general interest in ceramics that my parents taught me. At a certain point you have to delineate a specific interest, and mine is rooster tiles. There is something quite striking about a collector’s item. It is beautiful, but it is still just an object. It is only when you bring a whole set of them together that they acquire a new dimension. By collecting you actually create a kind of story that starts leading a life of its own and of which you become a part.’

A collection always has to start somewhere. Do you remember your very first piece?

‘Absolutely! I bought my very first rooster tile from an antiques dealer. I saw it in the shop window and it immediately drew my attention. Without thinking about it too much, I went right inside and bought the tile. I wasn’t planning on starting a collection, I was just interested in ceramics generally, but this one tile attracted me. I showed it to friends and family and I got very positive reactions, so very soon I bought my next tile and the ball just kept rolling.’

You now have an enormous collection of tiles. Will you simply continue to collect?

‘You start with two tiles and any new tiles are welcome. As your collection gradually grows and you become more knowledgeable, you start getting stricter. I have become more selective because I simply can’t keep everything. Nevertheless, I do have several copies of the same tile because although tiles are made based on a template, no two are ever truly identical. They are made by hand, after all, so they are genuinely artisanal. I will keep collecting until my house is full of rooster tiles. There has to be something very special about any new pieces I buy now. And of course the aesthetic aspect is very important.’

Why did you respond to M’s call? 

'It wasn’t such an obvious thing to do. On the one hand, it is still my collection and I don’t want to throw it all into the open. On the other hand, I enjoy sharing my things with others. I hope to stimulate interest in these objects and that they attract other people in one way or another. What’s more, I think these tiles are quite fitting for a place like M, and I really appreciate the fact that the museum has organized an event about the theme of ‘collecting’.'

The showpiece in your collection will soon be exhibited at M. Why did you choose this particular piece?

'Because it is an eye-catcher. It is a beautiful piece and I think it will appeal to a lot of people. It is also the beginning of a story. This is one of the older tiles in my collection, and in its time it was an expensive luxury product. Few people would have been able to afford tiles like this. Later on it became a more common object that was accessible to more people. In that sense it tells a historical story about the development of a culture.'