As occasionally happens, I stumbled upon a subtle theme that captivated. As an exploration, or perhaps even a voyage of self-realisation, I popped over to a place I’d never been before; Amsterdam centrale. Almost organically within the flow of shivering people, shuffling from place to place, attempting to escape the icy air yet unavoidably having to face the chill, a theme emerged. Tulips. Advancing from the station initially there were one or two carriers, with intent and purpose in cradling their newly attained tulips. The stems would curve from their plastic bags leaning their heads of flowers out to add colour to a world of blues and greys. It was this contrast of synthetic and natural that caught my eye. The multiple insignias of tulips, their hybridities, fresh on the bulbs. Their owners sometimes seemed out of place, shivering, yet they were at home, or at least making their way there. Like the tulips, symbols of a newer communion with origins in the makeup of man but from a habitat of nature further afield.

These photographs are visual residues of such seemingly spontaneous happenstances, yet also as a collection, show how unrevealed and understated policies might bring people together for a shared purpose, if just for the activity and convenience of purchasing tulips in Dam square. The tulips, in bunches, in their living form, allure people to carry them home, to pot them, to care for them. To be welcomed into that intimate space, less part of the furniture and more as living, breathing and growing entities clustered there in that familiar place. There becomes a transference of reciprocity from public organization and growers, to the public, to the private lives of their new custodians. All the while the tulips flourish and add to the lives of the subjects that carry them.

The blossoming tulips engender vibrancy in the lives of people in Amsterdam on a chilly and darkly hued January. They become much more than mere flowers: as if to challenge their comparative association with the evolution of cryptocurrencies, they are alive, offering us visual pleasure through their vivid appeal. In their simplest form, just as the subjects carrying them are less objectified, they embody the beauty of diversity, lushness as a reflection of regeneration, a pre-offering of light and spring. The effervescence is caught in the bubbles, in the sharpness in the engaged eyes of subjects, pushing through the cold, looking forward with eagerness to the sunshine and the natural renewal of springtime. The photographs capture that ordinariness but also that optimism.

Yaqoub Jemil BouAynaya