Amsterdam Exhibition

Invited to exhibit in Amsterdam by the Global Art Agency as part of a global group of artists, the reality sets in…

Having visited Amsterdam on several previous occasions, back in 2012 the sole purpose for the visit was very different than travelling. This time, it was to be less than a 2-week sojourn from Australia, with one main objective. Anything else would be a bonus.

#amsterdam, #photographyexhibition, #exhibition, #europe

Why? Because I was approached by the Global Art Agency to exhibit my photography as part of a group exhibition with over one hundred artists.

Never hearing of this organisation and thinking the email was a scam, of course, I did a little online research. To my delight, discovered that this definitely was a legit organisation. Super excited at this humbling invitation, decided to take some time off work to be a part of an amazing art event, albeit apprehensively. This would only be the second time I exhibited my work.


The first time was submitting my photo just months before this Amsterdam exhibition. Another group exhibition with 59 other artists in the MulticulturArt Exhibition in Shoreditch, London.

With only one photo requested from my portfolio to be exhibited in the MulticulturArt Exhibition, this was relatively easy. Emailing the artwork’s jpg with an artist statement and label to be printed in London, then physically mailing business cards, was a painless process. MulticulturArt organisers hung artwork for artists that couldn’t make the exhibition. The Global Art Agency Amsterdam exhibition would be very different and a lot of work.

The Amsterdam Venue

The fabulous De Oude Kerk venue is an incredible space to exhibit and is steeped amongst gorgeous narrow bicycle roads.

#map, #oudekerk, #amsterdam, #photographyexhibition, #exhibition, #europe
Map: Google

Not only was the wooden church built in 1213 and replaced with an imposing stone church in 1306, but the new church is also an amazing medieval building. Soaring internal stone arches frame incredible brightly-coloured leadlight windows, absorbed in history and absolutely stunning.

The Oude Kerk is across from Amsterdam’s redlight district. This in itself makes this venue intriguing and kind of contradictory. A church in a redlight district? Which one came first I wonder…

Think I can safely say that most people have heard of Amsterdam’s redlight district and frankly, everything you hear is true.

So much so that Jacques Brel wrote this powerful song, Amsterdam in 1964…

…but then David Bowie (one of my all-time favourite artists) sang another excellent version in 1982. Take a listen to both and let me know which one you prefer.

But, I digress, again…

Actually, during the day, windows are closed up and the street looks just like any other street in Amsterdam. The night is a different affair.

The whole area comes alive with red lights blaring everywhere and advertising the availability of women, for a cost. Yes, the windows show women in scanty underwear undergoing various things such as just reading a book and waiting for a customer. Or, luring customers to their windows in a provocative way. Some may be offended by this seductive show of display, but keep an open mind, you’ll be okay, and remember, this is their livelihood.

Exhibition costs

Besides the personal costs of getting myself and my partner from Brisbane (Australia) to Amsterdam, accommodation in Amsterdam, food, sightseeing, and the usual travel incidentals to be a part of this event, the exhibition stand wasn’t free. In total, this wasn’t a cheap exercise.

Well, someone has to pay for this event and of course, the cost is always borne by the artists.

But c’est la vie. Hang the expense. An experience of a lifetime. And from memory, it was only a couple of hundred British pounds for the exhibition stand.

#amsterdam, #photographyexhibition, #exhibition, #europe
Mysterious alleyways

Although, in addition to these escalating costs (lucky I had a full-time job) you need to remember, is also the cost of printing and framing photos, making professional Didactic labels, an artist summary, and updating business cards. In addition, there are always a few more forgotten incidentals waiting to burn through your pocket.

By the way, the Global Art Agency is still in existence in 2023 and still organises art exhibitions around the world each year. The cost has definitely increased much more for a stand these days. Not sure how an artist can afford some of the costs but exposure is paramount in this field.

How do you prepare for an exhibition?

Back in Brisbane, there’s a ton of work to prepare for an exhibition. Depending on the size of your stand, the artwork (in my case photos) is selected to suit the stand. But, how can you work out the number of photos required when the stand is thousands of miles away in Amsterdam?

Easy. Find a space on your floor at home. Measure and mark the stand’s size. Get some masking tape and mask the size out so it looks like the stand. This then gives a better visual so you can space your artwork out nicely.

I ended up with too many photos for my stand. Guess I was hoping to sell all of my photos. A word of advice, negative space is better. How you display your work depends on the size of the artwork in comparison to the stand. Whether you’re going for the same size artwork for a more uniform look or different sizes. Lay the frames on your marked-out floor space.

Try not to cram too much in and leave a good amount of space between artwork. Then, depending on your stand, do it all over again as with the Amsterdam exhibition, there are two sides to the stand.

For the Global Art Agency exhibition but for any exhibition really, I pay the extra and have everything printed professionally. You must do this as remember, this is your work. Don’t skimp on printing.

When everything was organised, we packed everything safely in bubble wrap to transport inside our luggage to Amsterdam. It helps if two of you are going as you’re allowed 30kgs each on an Emirates flight for checked-in baggage.

The Global Art Agency Event

Sadly, I seem to have lost the photos taken of my actual stand at the Global Art Agency exhibition, including the outside of Oude Kerk. Although managed to find a couple of videos from 2012, so that you can get a feel of what this exhibition was all about.

The official Global Art Agency video includes names of artists – mine displays at around 4:26 minutes.

This Global Art Agency’s review of the event also provides a different perspective.

The after-exhibition party was also excellent. Global Art Agency puts this on for the artists and partners. It’s such an excellent way to network but also catch up and mingle with artists as you just don’t get the time during the exhibition day.

We partied until the early hours of the morning, which was a load of fun. A different country with different people that you’ve just met.

Over one hundred artists gathered from around the globe for this one-day exhibition, which made this a fascinating event. I’m still in contact with some of the artists, eleven years later.

Even got to catch up with an amazing bunch of Dutch friends that took the time to see my work at the exhibition. Met these crazy people the previous year in Bolivia’s Pampas trek while searching for pink dolphins and Anacondas, during a memorable journey through South America that lasted over 9 months.

Getting there

From Australia, getting to Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam is relatively painless as there’s a plethora of available flights, but, it’s not that cheap. Although, no flight is cheap from The Land of Oz. A flight is exceptionally long and typically, broken up across two flights with a layover of a few hours somewhere in a transfer hub.

Booking through Zugi on an Emirates flight via Dubai, was the best price in 2012, but still not cheap.

map #Brisbane to #Dubai, #Australia, #Emirates, #UAE, #Oceania

If you click the Emirates link in this paragraph, you will see today’s price, which is around AUD $600 cheaper.

map #Dubai to #Amsterdam, #Europe, #schipol, #Australia, #Emirates, #UAE, #Oceania

If you decide to go via Dubai, then 24-plus hours across two flights is a typical but very long flight, from Australia to Amsterdam. Or, anywhere in Europe.

This is just the way it is as Australia is such a long way from anywhere in the world, but not Asia.

As always, the Emirates flight goes smoothly, or at least it did in 2012 and the three-hour wait in Dubai was enough time to do a little shopping for exotic souvenirs. By the way, there’s no such thing as Duty-Free anymore. Sad to say, all shopping in all airports is expensive.

Where to stay

On this trip to Amsterdam, decided to book the Singel Hotel, which is just under one kilometre from the Oude Kerk exhibition venue. The Singel Hotel is still operating in 2023.

An angular battleaxe room (unbeknownst when booking), but clean and cosy nonetheless, and overlooking lovely picturesque canals. The smallish room came complete with a massive radiator. Amsterdam gets bitterly cold during winter and December is winter.

bridge, #Amsterdam, #Netherlands, #Europe
Fuji 35mm B&W film

Compact and bijou, the Singel Hotel room’s rate included an absolutely scrumptious and excellent all-you-can-eat breakfast feast when you stepped from the lobby into the dining area. Rammed solid for a couple of hours every morning with people from around the world, the breakfast buffet was to die for…

Do check back next week for the continuing post on amazing Amsterdam, where I share with you some great sights to explore on your trip to Amsterdam.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

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40 responses to “Amsterdam Exhibition”

  1. Rebecca Cuningham Avatar

    Sounds really exciting to exhibit your work in such a cosmopolitan city! I like your advice on planning and printing; should be helpful to artists starting out.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      This was in 2012 and it was very exciting but also expensive. I was lucky to be working full time but it was totally worth the experience.
      While in Italy, I also had another exhibition. 😉
      I hope that artists reading this post glean a few helpful pointers.

  2. gillmorris Avatar

    Hey Nilla, WOW what a fab experience. I have never heard of this exhibition but it looks great. Your photo is wonderful and isn’t it wonderful to see your name ‘in lights’. When I did my exhibitions in Bangkok, I did exactly the same when measuring where I would hand my framed prints – used my friends house to measure and used DVDs to act as the photos. We measured it pretty damn good! Hope all is well. xxx

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Gill
      Yes, it was fabulous mingling with so many artists worldwide and getting the chance to see their fabulous art.
      I think measuring on the floor is the best way to get a feel of the space for your artwork. Have you had any other exhibitions since the Bangkok one?
      All is well here but I’ve resigned and will start travelling again – leaving Oz on the 3rd of March and hope to be away for a couple of years, so watch this space. 😉
      Nilla x

      1. gillmorris Avatar

        I haven’t had any exhibitions since Bangkok, but it’s been on my mind to do one, just need money to prepare etc. Thinking about doing an online one, not sure how! Wow, new year new starts for you, I will look forward to hearing about your travels! xx

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I was going to have another exhibition before I left Australia but with working full time, I just don’t have the time. I may need to wait until I head back to Italy. 😉
        Online exhibitions seem popular especially post-COVID but I’m not sure how it all works – sounds a little weird as the ambience of an exhibition is what I like most, and talking with people.

      3. gillmorris Avatar

        Yeah, I agree but it’s another little project to work on I guess x

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        You have to have little projects of passion to work on… 😉

      5. gillmorris Avatar

        All the time!

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Excellent! So when’s your next exhibition?

      7. gillmorris Avatar

        I am still thinking about it. Not anytime soon. I started to put another book together about memories of Thailand eek x

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Wow, that sounds amazing but a lot of work. x

  3. Julio Jiménez Avatar

    my pleasure

  4. Julio Jiménez Avatar

    thank you very much and good year to you too with goodyear or michelin (cheers chère nilla)

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar
  5. Julio Jiménez Avatar

    oh my god i am so sorry (i thought it was a new exhibition in amsterdam) thank you my dear nilla and good luck in 2023

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      No problem at all Julio. I appreciated your comment anyway. Hope 2023 is a good year for you!

  6. Dave Ply Avatar

    That must have been a cool experience. If some group had hit me up to exhibit, I’d be “you sure you got the right guy?” I doubt I’d have flown halfway across the world to do it in any case, but then you’re a much more hard core traveler than I am.

    I’ve really only visited Amsterdam once, back in ’77, and thought it was neat and worth a return visit. But apart from the very crowded airport for changing flights, it hasn’t happened.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Dave
      Great to hear from you! It was a very cool experience and I’d do it all again. Funny, that was my initial reaction until I researched the company. Ah well, we only live once, don’t we. 😉
      Wow, Amsterdam in ’77 would have been a very different place I’m sure, but at least you’ve been. Maybe you should try again but not in transit?


  7. Julio Jiménez Avatar

    i like both versions and also the versions of john denver/julie paquin-bergeron/mort shuman (qui a écrit les paroles en anglais)/sanae jabrane/scott walker/thierry amiel/ute lemper (and i wish you dear nilla a good luck in amsterdam)

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Julio but this exhibition was in 2012 and it was amazing!
      Glad you like all those versions of the song. 😉

  8. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Compliments on the expo. Amsterdam is nice. Much nicer now than… a while ago. (I lived there for three years between tow African postings of my father’s. The first winter was a bit of a shock… 😉)
    Tot ziens

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, Brian.
      Yes, it is a lovely city with super-friendly locals. Lucky you living there for 3 years!
      Winter is always a shock in the Northern Hemisphere!

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        They are friendly. Very. I climbed MOnt-Blanc with two Dutch colleagues. great guys. We still keep in touch.
        Winter is a shock anywhere. LOL. Remember I’m a tropical frog.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Always great when you keep in contact with people. 😉
        Ha, ha, as am I, but I’ll put up with winter if I’m travelling in those countries.

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        You’re a tough Lady, I know…

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, resilient…think it’s because my parents were immigrants and they did it tough when they arrived in Australia (at different times). 😉

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Indeed. People worked hard then. And some still do. 😉

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Indeed they (we) do! 😉

      7. equinoxio21 Avatar


  9. Yetismith Avatar

    Oh…and I like Jacques Brel. Something about songs sung by a Frenchman makes me go wobbly!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, that’s too funny! Clearly, it’s the accent! 🤣

  10. Yetismith Avatar

    What a brilliant experience. Such a nice venue. A lot of work too but I agree that it pays in the long run to get everything done professionally. My dad was a photographer and he put some of his pictures in frames but they were cheap and nasty. When the photos were given to me I got the properly framed and what a difference. I still have them, pictures of Angkor…just my mum and I on that long walk. Also a couple of shots of the ruined hotel at Bokor. No duty free in Dubai!!! That’s why we always transited ! Well that and the fact we used free KLM tkts! I love that lady’s face you had in the show.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Carolyn
      Thank you for checking out the video. I get mixed feedback about that lady’s face as it shows a lot of pain. It’s not a photo that I’ve sold as typically, people want happy photos on their walls. Alas, we artists need to cater for our audiences sometimes so succumb to what sells. 🙁
      THis exhibition was an amazing experience but not just for the venue, all the people I met were more important.

  11. Stella, oh, Stella Avatar

    Congratulations! I wish you a really great experience!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Stella
      This exhibition was in 2012 and it was a fabulous event! Likeminds mingling and networking – such a wonderful experience and so glad that I made the effort to fly from Australia to Amsterdam for this event!

      1. Stella, oh, Stella Avatar

        I am sorry, I didn’t see that … 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Hey, no problem at all and thanks for leaving a comment – much appreciated!

  12. Lookoom Avatar

    Amsterdam is such a treat. I didn’t know David Bowie’s version, but Jacques Brel’s voice is so vibrant with that slight Flemish accent that it’s hard to match the emotion.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Agree. I also love Amsterdam and each time I visit, I find that there’s so much more to this fascinating city.
      That’s a tough one and the reason I shared both videos as I think both versions are very emotional. I can’t choose between them even though Bowie is one of my favourite singers.

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