Len Van Brook
  • Introduction

Life in a Nutshelf

Tokens of a life come together on a shelf – books, magazines, pictures, robots, and King Kong. These objects are diverse, but they share something. Someone placed these objects upon the shelf in an unmistakable arrangement. They’re not random, they are a curated selection of objects, each with high personal value. Together, they are like pieces of a puzzle that tell their collector’s story. Photographer Len van Brook dives into the shelf and its expressive characteristics. In his work the shelf becomes the reflection of a person. His photos capture the original arrangements on the shelf from real people. Leaving you to wonder – Who marked the pages in the poetry collection? Who placed King Kong next to the thesaurus? Who filled this colorful, eclectic shelf with such objects?

The expression, “In a nutshell,” is used to describe something that is condensed, summarized, or to the point. Stephen Hawking, for example, summarized the universe in a nutshell in layman’s terms, for people that do not have a doctorate in theoretical physics. Similarly, In Van Brook’s series, he summarizes life, namely, in a nutshelf. The idea is as engaging as it is clever. The shelf, full of personal details, shares the story of its owner's life, their personality, through books, figures, and memorabilia.

For many years, Len van Brook has worked as a photographer, interior designer, and product designer. The concept of using shelves as a setting for a work of art stems from his passion for the personal design of rooms and spaces, which has always been part of his work. For him, making something personal is the "patina of life", it’s what transforms a room of four smooth white walls into something with character.
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