Dr Els Verheij of Tribal Design, Amsterdam.

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1 How did you get your start?

As a child, my father’s artist friends who collected tribal art were frequently around. I always wanted to join my father when he visited these friends. I think my vocation was inspired by the combination of the oil paintings, tribal art and the unconventional way of thinking many of these artists had. People who collect tribal art are very often interesting people.

Twenty-five years ago, the wife of the owner of a gallery where I worked as a student asked me to start together with her a tribal art gallery and that became Tribal Design. After one year she moved to Brussels with her family and I took over the gallery.

It was a small space very well located, but 10 years ago I moved to a much larger gallery near the Rijksmuseum.

2 What events do you have coming up?

In addition to the online fair starting in late April, I will, of course, be standing at the Tribal Art Fair Amsterdam on October 26-29.

I am also organising an exhibition of well-known artist Pjotr Müller in my gallery. Since I have a large gallery, I love to show my tribal art objects in combination with Modern art.

3 What is one great discovery you’ve made?

One of my most precious objects, which is in my private collection, is a Papuan Golf figure called ‘Bioma’. I like this figure a lot and it makes me happy.

4 Who is someone you admire?

Steven Hooper, grandson of the legendary James Thomas Hooper, who was a British collector of ethnographic artifacts of the Inuit, Native American, Oceanic and African Art.

Steven ran an impressive exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre in the UK called Fiji: art and life in the Pacific. It is one of the most beautiful exhibitions ever organised, and I admire his knowledge about Fijian art as well as the fantastic display of all the objects which were on view. He brought together items from all kinds of museums and private collections to realise this exhibition. I use the catalogue a lot as documentation for my gallery.

5 Real ale or espresso martini?

Espresso martini!

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