A fish called Aarsman

Christine Pijnappels, team leader and interim course manager HBO-nursing, talking about 3 Generations, by Hans Aarsman

“Our department was being renovated and we very much wanted this work to be hung there once the renovation was finished. It has a nice connection with nursing, where it’s very important to make proper observations, you really have to learn how to get a good picture of the patient, to get the feeling of them.

When I look at Three Generations, that little boy always makes me laugh, he seems so proud of that little fish. He seems so uninhibited, with his whole life ahead of him.

In the middle portrait, of Aarsman himself, you can already see more worries. He looks a bit like, ‘I have this job to get done too’, and just gets the photograph taken between doing other things, whilst brushing his teeth.
With Pa, I have the tendency to wonder if he’s a bit imbalanced. Will he get himself sorted? What does the future still have to offer him? The way he’s lying there is typical of the way that patients tend to slump. All the nurses would feel prompted to ask him if he wouldn’t rather be sitting up a bit straighter.

It shows a perspective of the future whilst at the same time it looks back. It’s really about life. I don’t see this triptych in terms of development or degeneration. For me it shows the reality that becoming older is not easy, but that acceptance does make it easier.
In our profession it’s really important to keep taking into account the person opposite you. This work helps to remind you of that.

I have become really attached to it. The most efficient route to my workplace is not past these photos, but I still walk past there every day, just to have seen them.”