nature or cult



A photograph, laminated and backed with 3mm Dibond, height 151 mm x width 250 mm, for 300 dpi (edition of 7)

Insurance Value 1,000 Euros


Concept & Camera Tanya Ury
Digital image processing Ingolf Pink

nature or cult, symmetrical in appearance is a lakeside landscape photograph taken at Museum Insel Hombroich in Germany, which has been digitally supplemented with the words nature or cult, in turquoise and pink.




On Friday the 18th of May 2012, I took a train, tram and bus ride with a friend, to visit Museum Insel Hombroich, located between Neuss and Grevenbroich, north west of Cologne (ca. 6 miles south west of Düsseldorf).

After our journey we entered what was for me a veritable paradise garden. We wandered about the whole afternoon, along tracks constructed between fields and shallow, artificial lakes that allowed plant and bird life to flourish undisturbed; in the long grasses grew innumerable multi-coloured columbines (acquilegias) and many other wild flowers - flying ducks and moorhens rose from and returned to protected nests, in the midst of all this marshland beauty.

Our paths didn’t often cross with other visitors as we then rambled among pine, sequoia and monkey puzzle trees, blossoming wisteria, may (hawthorn), lilac and high copper beech hedges, to name but a few of the many horticultural varieties we came upon that had been planted in balanced design for the visitors’ enchantment, in other parts of the “island”.

My friend Kasander, suggested we take refuge from a spring shower in a building located amongst trees. This was one of many pavilions erected, sometimes secluded, in the landscape at Insel Hombroich. Inside most of these buildings was a permanent exhibition that revealed for me, unexpected pleasures: I immediately recognised a series of minute etchings by Rembrandt and there were drawings by Klimt, paintings by Yves Klein, Lovis Corinth, Matisse, Fontana, Polke and Picabia. I saw art by Beuys, Giacommetti and Brancusi. But there were also objects of ancient cultures: from China, Cambodia, Inuit art and artwork from a tropical rainforest, made of colourful bird feathers. In none of these pavilions was the stern scrutiny of a security guard to be seen – the guest, left to her own devices was trusted to respect the valuable objects on show and the delight of these many discoveries was heightened by such a benevolent atmosphere.

In the rural quiet you might suddenly come across a Chillida sculpture, alfresco installations by artists in residence, but also architectural follies and ancient Buddha statues. Truly, much thought and effort had gone into creating this tranquil island of nature and culture, a meditative escape for the discerning visitor.

Later, during another warm rainstorm we took shelter in the café, with its large angular glass and metal girder walls; many of the other ca. 50 visitors of all ages, also found their way here now. The food was simple and delicious - the price (for as much as you could eat) being included in the inexpensive day ticket.

On our return, I read up on how the island had been developed: Karl-Heinrich Müller (1936-2007) had first acquired some land in 1984. 10 years later the “Raketenstation Kapellen”, a former NATO rocket launch base was purchased, altogether making up 25 Hectares of land. Buildings then constructed were designed by various architects and included a library, a concert hall and residences, where artists might live and work. Müller donated the art collection - the landscape designer was Bernhard Korte.

This history was impressive but as I read through the list of artists in Karl-Heinrich Müller’s illustrious collection, to my disappointment I realised that no women were numbered among them.

On the Museum Island Hombroich website (, the first page cites Karl-Heinrich Müller:

Hombroich — An Open Experiment:

The island is quintessentially feminine.
She gives birth, holds together, supports, serves and releases.
She is not a must, but a may. She is not either — or, but both — and.
She challenges everyone to come to terms with him- or herself daily.
She is not a masculine field for organization, hunting, accumulation, power and demonstration.

Karl-Heinrich Müller has undoubtedly created an island idyll but has unconsciously also demonstrated the culture versus nature argument - with the effectuation of his vast art collection at Museum Insel Hombroich, in which women artists have been excluded, he has fully realised a chauvinist philosophy.

And at the end of the page Karl-Heinrich Müller is again quoted:

The island tolerates and wants new people, women and men.
She entices, seduces and wins over, but demands service.
She pays tribute to being allowed.She trusts people who are in earnest.
She is a way of collecting communal experiences and results through a variety of experiments in different areas.
The island scarcely leaves room for masculinity.

<i>nature or cult</i>