1 February till 14 March 2021

Janne van Gilst


Janne van Gilst - Miltvuurbosjes - Cyanotypie

In February and March, Janne van Gilst will be living and working in Kunsthuis SYB. From SYB she will go in search of Anthrax groves, landscape elements that occur mainly in the Northern provinces of the Netherlands. Anthrax groves can be found in the corners of meadows, isolated by a surrounding ditch. With the support of geographer Dr. J.H.P. van der Vaart, Janne van Gilst is searching for this landscape phenomenon.

Van Gilst intends to document the groves through photographs, which she will print in SYB using various media: by experimenting with photographic printing techniques that fade slowly (cyanotype, kallitypie), she seeks a parallel with the registration and meaning of the anthrax groves: as time passes, they will eventually deform or disappear.

Anthrax Groves
Until the 19th century, cattle infected with anthrax were often buried in the farthest corner of the pasture. A ditch or fence was then often placed around them to prevent healthy cattle from reaching them and spreading the anthrax spores. Because the anthrax bacteria can survive underground for centuries, the groves are still dangerous. Knowledge of where these groves are has never been recorded, but has been passed down from generation to generation within the farming community.

What remains are small islands of untouched nature, where no human has been for centuries. Stories about these groves have taken on a life of their own. People from surrounding areas know that they are dangerous, but often no longer why. This only adds to their secrecy.

About the artist
Photographer Janne van Gilst (Colijnsplaat, 1991) grew up on the island of Noord-Beveland in Zeeland. There, she developed an awareness of the landscape with which she is surrounded. Since studying Documentary Photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, she has been photographing her changing surroundings. In this way she reflects on the cultural zeitgeist and how it relates to the way we shape and experience our surroundings. Previously she worked on projects about regional stories, agricultural traditions and man’s urge to control and subdue the landscape. Her work is regularly published and exhibited nationally and internationally.

Do you know where to find an anthrax or plague grove in the northern part of the Netherlands? Or do you know stories about them? If so, please contact Janne at jannevangilst@gmail.com or 06-13547778.


This project is kindly supported by the Province of Fryslan, the Mondriaan Fund, Opsterland and STROOM.