Lizan Freijsen — The art that nature leaves behind

A stain on a ceiling is a blank canvas for an active imagination: whole worlds can be conjured from the nebulous cloud it forms.

Lizan Freijsen’s fascination with stains and mildew began when she was a little girl on holiday in Hulshorst and Oisterwijk in the Netherlands. At night, she was frightened by the strange stains on the ceiling above her bed. Staring hard at them, she was able to imagine enchanting fairytales that soothed her to sleep. The worlds she saw in them have, in turn, opened new worlds for her.

The grown-up Freijsen is still captivated by moisture and mildew stains, and now she transforms them into works of art: beautiful woolen rugs with amorphous shapes, plush relief and subtle color gradations that decorate rather than disturb, spreading their rich, earthy colors and abstract forms organically across the surface.


To nourish her work, Freijsen actively collects stains. She once went so far as to send out postcards to 4,000 people in Rotterdam, her hometown, asking them for help in finding intriguing stains. When some 40 people replied, she visited them and asked about the stories behind the leaks.
She also takes inspiration from slow-growing lichen, with its similar patterns and ranges of subtle colors. She first photographs her subject and then reworks and optimizes the images digitally. They take on three dimensions once again when she has them turned into rugs.
Freijsen still makes up stories about her collection of stains, organizing them into such categories as “heaven,” “friends,” “bodies,” “animals,” “home” and “atmosphere”, turning the ubiquitous into the specific. “Water makes no distinction and comes everywhere,” she says. The stains it creates “embody numerous stories for me about buildings, relations and the effect of time.”

Making art out of these living, growing natural phenomena – “the drawing that nature leaves behind,” as she calls them – is Freijsen’s way of turning them into scintillating objects that remain timeless.


Lizan Freijsen’s rugs are available at LECLAIREUR Saint Ouen.