Julia Pelealu is famous for her splendid photo series, in which she draws inspiration from rebellious and independent women in history. Actually, the Rotterdam-based photographer and artist is averse to talking too much about her work; she far prefers viewers to be attracted using their power of imagination. She was recently invited by the Rotterdam House of Photography as an artist-in-residence, a work period that gave her the opportunity to deepen her work and aspirations. In addition, she recently joined the board of the House of Photography and we asked her a few questions to find out more about her.


As an ‘artist-in-residence’, you are actually a temporary guest artist. I was invited by the House of Photography to use of their wonderful Garden Room Workshop, which I currently share with two other photographic artists: Vivianne Ammerlaan and Sabine van der Vooren. All three of us are working on our own projects but we don’t live there. Nevertheless, I quite like the term ‘artist-in-residence’ because the House of Photography feels like home to me. The splendid premises on the Westersingel are authentic and atmospheric. It is essential to have a workshop that is both peaceful and inspirational. Much of my current and future work invokes the past and therefore the building that houses the institute is highly inspiring for my new work. Moreover, the House of Photography is for and by photographers: a place where photography is key, a true platform for photographers. The House of Photography was founded by Annet Schipper, Helma Vlemmings and Vivian Ammerlaan. Thus, they have provided Rotterdam with a place where photographers feel welcome and at home. A place where you are inspired by other artists and their work.

Julia Pelealu – “Never apologize for being a powerful woman”
Julia Pelealu – “Never apologize for being a powerful woman”

Picture Get-together

As an artist, you need a place for ongoing development. A place to bond with other artists and to learn from each other’s experiences. In the House of Photography, photo exhibitions are one way to achieve this. Recently, we also organised a Picture Get-together, where photographers presented their portfolios and shared their experiences. Information was also provided about making your own book of photographs and the associated possibilities. This event was received by visitors with such enthusiasm that we will be organising and seeing more thrilling Picture Get-togethers and exhibitions in the future. Other than that, I am inspired most by the books that I read and the movies that I watch.

An undying love for Rotterdam

Rotterdam is my love and this love is eternal. I was born in the Afrikaanderwijk (South) and raised in IJsselmonde. Saying that I have a connection with Rotterdam is putting it mildly. I am a Rotterdammer in heart and soul.

Experiencing the world of other artists

Obviously, I am looking forward most to the photo exhibition in the House of Photography. In addition, I am definitely going to visit Rotterdam Photo, because I feel that The Human Blueprint theme is going to yield thrilling photographs, especially given today’s society and the massive changes it is undergoing. From finding your professional position to raising children. Who are you and what do you want? The whole world is going through a transformation, in which so much feels unreal. It makes you feel you live in a world comprised purely of energy. This unleashes so much and so I think that artists are going to produce really exiting art works. I can barely wait to step into their world.

I am also looking forward to Chas Gerretsen’s exhibition in the Dutch Photo Museum. He is a journalist and photo journalist, whose work includes covering the Vietnam war and the coup in Chile, as well as photos of celebrities. I am a great lover of history and portraits. Photographers bring history to life with their pictures, conveying deeply felt emotions. And yes, I can hardly wait to see where Rotterdam Art Week will be taking me. Quite thrilling!

Julia Pelealu - “Never apologize for being a powerful woman”
Julia Pelealu - “Never apologize for being a powerful woman”
My selection