Back to All Events

review 'The First Three Years' at by Olga Bubich

My book was wonderfully reviewed by Olga Bubich at

Since its in Russian, below you can find a tentative translation into Englisch:

This place feels to small, I have already seen every corner of this place. Where did the person go I was before? Where can I find my past life?
By taking portraits of my son and stil lives of our direct surroudings, the first three years, I see myself looking for who I am after giving birth to another human being. Not having the sole bare responsibility for myself anymore, but mainly for another human being. 

With this recognition, the debut photo book of the Dutch artist, photographer and coach Eva Gjaltema “The First Three Years” - an ascetic family album for two, whose essence is strongly expressed in the name of one of the courses of Eva, begins. "Turning poison into medicine." The book project, assembled from several series, is precisely the result of this transformation, a cure for emptiness, which the woman felt after giving birth.

Trying to find the perfect balance between the social roles they face, women often face tremendous stress. Society requires them to simultaneously be a mother and wife, an expert in a certain area of knowledge and a leader, partner and “keeper of the hearth” ... In efforts to do everything and be everyone at the same time, women risk losing their true face, dissolving in meeting the needs of others and serving other worlds . Not ashamed of loud metaphors, Eva Gjaltema calls these external influences poison and develops personal strategies for his transformation. Painful experience, the artist believes, can be an opportunity for reflection and help develop courage and compassion, and negative experiences can motivate us to better understand ourselves.

The First Three Years is based on the artist’s personal experience of becoming a mother; on the contradictory nature of the event and the conflicting emotions it creates — the awe at the incredible ’once in a lifetime’ beauty of motherhood mixed with feelings of daunting powerlessness and isolation.

The story of revelations begins with a cover — a snow white, with a square embossed insert, in which place readers are used to seeing the iconic image of the project. A photograph, designed to adjust to the desired mood, set the tone for the mood. However, Eva has a void in her place. The birth of a new life - literally - tabula rasa. But not only the story of a person who has just appeared into the world begins “from scratch” ...

Blurred portraits of the newborn, curtained windows, reluctantly letting in the rays of the dawn, vases with fading colors ... Frames seem random, they seem to reflect the scattered look of a person who forgot why he went to the next room. Someone who found a coin that had rolled out of the couch, was out of circulation, and was now staring at its belated frankness, gaping in the open palm. Simple objects, walls, corners ... Pillows, surprised baby ... Motifs repeat, walk in a circle, reveal rhymes-inserts - the claustrophobia of motherhood, about which Eva writes in the lines that appear a little from under the transparent page, almost immediately.

As he grows up, the child perceives the world, while his mother is trying to accept a new self. “The First Three Years” is a book that being lost is normal, not afraid to be afraid, more terrible is to continue to deny fear. The void in the place of the figures cut from the photographs is temporary. Eva showed that it can be filled with other layers, to collect fragments of a torn reality into pictures of the new world. Poison can be a medicine, a collage - a symbol of a person who has become whole.