Berend van der Struik was a Dutch artist, born on 24 July1929 in Beilen. He studied at the Akademie voor Industriële Vormgeving Eindhoven and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière (Parijs).

He emigrated to Australia in 1957 and lived there until 1964. He was a teacher, designer, and sculptor, and his work was featured in the first Mildura Sculpture Prize in 1961.

The inaugural Adelaide Festival of 1960 included a small exhibition of sculpture at the National Gallery of South Australia as part of the festival program. Held in Gallery 4, Contemporary Australian Sculpture included twenty-two works by sixteen sculptors: from NSW, Vincent Arnall, Gordon McAuslan, Lorraine Boreham, Milan Vojsk and Owen Broughton; from Qld, Kathleen and Leonard Shillam; from SA, Paul Beadle, Alexander Leckie, John Dowie and Berend van der Struik and from Vic., Karl Duldig, Lenton Parr, Clifford Last, Tina Wentscher, Andor Meszaros and Teisutis Zikaras. Most of these sculptors were included in the 1st Mildara Sculpture Prize in 1961 at Mildura.  

Berend was involved in the founding of the Adelaide School of Art. He also produced a sculpture for the Union Hall.

One of his most well-known sculptures is “The Couple,” which he created in 1962 for installation in the Adelaide Veale Gardens. Unfortunately, the sandstone used to create the sculpture cracked after 30 hours of work, and van der Struik had to start over with another piece of sandstone purchased from Maroubra in Sydney.

The sculpture depicts two early settlers, a man and woman, and was met with controversy upon its unveiling due to its then avantgarde modernist simplified form. Critics complaint about the value of council spending on public art. Despite this, the sculpture remains a feature in Veale Gardens to this day, though it has weathered over the years and lost some of its original sharper features. It is now a favoured location for weddings.

After his time in Australia, van der Struik returned to the Netherlands, where he continued to create art until his passing in Hoorn on 25 September 1977.

See also:

Adelaide City Explorer

Publication of the Adelaide University S.R.C. Vol. 28, No 1 March 7, 1960 (scroll down)