Rainbow Soulclub

Rainbow Soulclub / Gimme Shelter


A collaborative project with Stichting De Regenboog (the Rainbow Foundation) and art academy students, 2005-present.

The Rainbow Soulclub, an initiative of Saskia Janssen and George Korsmit, was established in September 2005 and involves meetings and collaborative projects between art students and visitors to De Regenboog Groep (The Rainbow Group), a foundation that provides shelter and care for homeless people and for users of hard drugs in Amsterdam. The encounters take place in the foundation’s walk-in shelters and drug-users’ spaces. During their training, students spend most of their time in the protected, safe surroundings of the academy and their social circles primarily consist of fellow students. By contrast, the social environment of the clients of the walk-in shelters and drug-users’ spaces is primarily composed of fellow users, homeless people and social workers. Both groups meet people who they would not normally associate with, something which can broaden and enrich their way of thinking. The meetings and collaborations are based on equality and mutual respect, rather than being aimed at ‘helping’ or ‘healing’ the visitors: the interchange of ideas and thoughts is the key objective. Wherever possible, ideas are also actually implemented.

A great diversity of projects have sprung from these ‘blind dates’ over the last two years: painting bikes in the Vondelpark, distributing soup at Dam Square, pasting up posters in the city, drawing, painting, pottery, producing films, writing, cooking, creating collages, designing typefaces, recording music, making clothing, launching campaigns and even transmitting ‘cosmic energy’.

The highly varied collection of ever-changing activities has become a refreshing component as well as a welcome addition to the everyday activities of both students and visitors. A report on these projects appears every six months in the publication Gimme Shelter, which is posted on the walls of the walk-in centres as well as on the website www.rainbowsoulclub.nl. This site also serves as an archive for the drawings, photos, videos and documentation. For homeless people it is often difficult to store things, but on the website everything can be accessed at any time, even by family members in far-off countries. (Nowadays almost all homeless people have e-mail and access to internet at the walk-in centres.)

In 2008, Janssen and Korsmit undertook a working visit to Suriname with a small group of Blaka Watra visitors. In Suriname they all worked together, facilitating drawing workshops in remote villages in the interior as well as at the Opa Doeli youth detention centre in the capital city of Paramaribo.

Since February 2010 the Rainbow Soulclub has boasted a dedicated workspace in the form of a specially equipped portacabin in the grounds of the Blaka Watra walk-in centre. Soulclub members congregate there at set times to work on their projects. The walk-in centre’s visitors can also ‘book’ time in this studio to work on personal projects. There are, for example, visitors who write, make music, paint and draw, and one who makes coconut-shell lamps. The studio functions as a peaceful oasis to work without being disturbed and offers the opportunity to store the work safely in order to continue working on it another day. Visitors are currently working on a music project: a double album with the working title ‘Songs from the Shelter’ that is set for release in 2011. A working visit to Ghana is planned for the autumn of 2011 in association with the Bokemei Foundation. A small group of Blaka Watra visitors will go and help with the completion of a school and will make a mural for this building.


Gimme Shelter #1, #2, #3,#4, #5 is a series of publications produced by visitors to De Regenboog Groep in association with art academy students. For further information, see www.rainbowsoulclub.nl.