The Queen Herself With Hanna Rédling
It was in March 2018 when I was first traveling to Pieterburen to meet Astrid. I started helping around the hotel, taking care of her dogs, welcoming guests and fixing breakfast for them. As time passed Astrid made me become a part of her quirky worlds. Since then I’ve been trying to find my own fictional character next to her and photograph our everyday life together.
Interview by – James Wrigley Photography by – Hanna Rédling

I’ve been saving hotels from the internet for years now, this is how I discovered ‘Koningin van Pieterburen’ during the time I was living in Amsterdam. Pieterburen is a tiny village in the North of the Netherlands which has about 400 inhabitants. Here located this small Bed and Breakfast, a magical place which is run by it’s owners, Astrid van Rose and her husband.For 35 years Astrid has been an artist/singer/entertainer and also a kitsch-collector. Her unique hotel offers the perfect opportunity for children to fully experience their childhood fantasies and for adults to evoke their childhood memories.

You started to collect and save hotels online, what started this and what was your thought process behind that? 

Around 3 years ago I was working on a personal series which was located in a small guesthouse in Budapest. The interior design was amazing, and I wanted to find more similar places. Then I wrote my thesis about motel-located American movies. I’ve started to research the history, the symbolism and interior design of hotel/motel rooms. The capability of quick transformation and the mystery around these small places really fascinates me. The whole ’hotel room thing’ became some kind of a hobby. When I have some free time I’m surfing on the internet to find more and more interesting rooms.

Tell me about meeting Astrid for the first time and how this series all started?

After graduating from my BA I moved to Amsterdam. I was working a lot and didn’t really have time to work on anything personal in photography. So I’ve just continued collecting the small hotels, but this time I focused on places located in the Netherlands. One night I found ’Koningin van Pieterburen’ (Astrid’s guesthouse) and scrolling through the pictures I instantly felt this is my place, I have to go there somehow.

I was searching on the web and tried to find a personal contact and get some information about the owners. This is how I finally found Astrid. In 2018 January I contacted her that she received first with scepticism, but agreed to see me for my help and in exchange provided me with a room to stay at her B&B. This was the starting point of my journey to the B&B in March, I travelled to Pieterburen for the first time and at my arrival, I helped her out by dog-sitting as well as looking after the B&B while she was performing somewhere in the Netherlands. Upon arrival, to say the least, I was shocked taking in all the aesthetics of the guesthouse, and so I decided to document my experience by dressing up as various characters and taking photos and videos of myself. I could not believe something like this can really happen. Two days later they got back and we spent a whole day together with Astrid. From the moment we met, Astrid and I shared an artistic and personal bond, there was trust with one another which is why she allowed me to take pictures and she also said I can always go back to her place.

Your images play with the idea of childhood, adult relationships and fictional characters, through these performances you capture a very real sense of character and honesty. What did this series mean to you and did you have an intention beforehand? 

The strangest aspect of the bed and breakfast was this fairy-tale castle type of spirit that it offered to the children who stay there, to let their imagination run wild and for the adults to rekindle their own child within. The guesthouse provided all of the materials and opportunities for the guests to feel like they are living in a real-life fairy-tale world.

During my time at Koningin van Pieterburen I witnessed and quickly realized that the owners’ lives are just as exciting and astonishing as the bed and breakfast itself. My first intention was to document and discover the guesthouse but I’ve slowly started to focus more on the life of Astrid. She has different characters and she always encourages me to try to find my own as well. We’ve started to build our real and fictional relationships together which is a super interesting journey. Spending time in Pieterburen is also a very good way to deal more with self-knowledge.

What are some of the most memorable experiences from this series?

I remember my second night in the B&B! I was alone with Miss Bera and Freyja (the dogs) and Astrid asked me to sleep in her bed with them. I’ve never slept with dogs before, I was in the private room of strangers and I was wearing a huge wig and a velvet royal cloak. I was laughing a lot on myself. By the way I’m so grateful that Astrid trusted in me!

Also our first photoshoot together was so much fun. We climbed on a tree in the apple forest and Astrid’s husband took some photos of us.

What’s In store for you next?

In April I moved back to Hungary, so now I live in Budapest. I’m going tovisit Astrid as soon as I can. I really want to spend more time with her and see where will our relationship go. I hope this series was just the first chapter of our story!

Furthermore, I’m working on a new series. I photograph small guesthouses in Hungary and I try to capture our unique Eastern style and aesthetics.