Pictura Gallery

Rianne Tegelaar | The Call of the Jackdaw

March 6, 2024

In Rianne Tegelaar’s photograph, a child’s hand reaches for a stone monkey who sits in the tall grass. Only this small slice of the image is illuminated — the discovery, and the act of touch. The statue is angling towards the child, and something in the monkey’s face makes it seem plausible that it’s delighted to be found, as if a real connection is happening. This kind of enchantment is hiding all over the place in Tegelaar’s The Call of the Jackdaw, where the wild world fuses with imagination. 

A chameleon ambles onto a patch of sunlight on a young girl’s arm. Its front foot is raised, and the posture mimics conversation. Neither creature seems to be particularly afraid of the other. The photo’s composition is lovely but minimal. There’s nothing to distract from the main event — of natural connection, of enviable presence. Tegelaar seems to move between two modes. In a few pictures, she observes the child in the forest from a holy distance. But in most, she follows the lead of the children, shrinking down to grass level with them. I imagine what it was like to make this project. Photography can provide an excellent excuse to enter into slow time. And I wonder if the camera might be a grown-up’s secret way in to Narnia.

The Call of the Jackdaw shows what the child can see. We too are helped to see objects and textures in the forest that could go unnoticed. Tegelaar has a natural way of isolating her subjects, foregrounding the flowers, the insects and creatures of the woods. Her subjects glow as the darkness telescopes around them. The darkness is no foe. It brings out the light. With a slow gaze and appreciative curiosity, Tegelaar grants a child’s communion with the natural world its due seriousness. Her photographs call up a way of being, remembered from childhood, which may be accessible yet.

-Lisa Woodward

Rianne Tegelaar 10
Rianne Tegelaar 16
Rianne Tegelaar 2
Rianne Tegelaar 3
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Rianne Tegelaar 7
Rianne Tegelaar 8
Rianne Tegelaar 4
Rianne Tegelaar 13

Rianne Tegelaar was a Finalist for the 2024 Life framer Series award

You can see more of her work here