Rik Kooke grew up in Veldhoven, Noord-Brabant, where he was very interested in the life of animals as a small boy. Large cross spiders were collected on the playground in front of his parents' house and were put in small glass jars with lots of twigs, leaves and other insects that could serve as spider's lunch or dinner, while at the same time all kinds of domestic spiders were thrown out of the house by Rik because they would otherwise end up in the vacuum cleaner, or would be washed away with the dishes in the sink. It never really worked out so well for both spider species. Other experiments with small creatures, such as dividing a worm in two to give life to multiple lifeforms, the expropriation of a hamster and growing it up in nature, or the hatching of an egg from a goose all had just as fatal consequences, and Rik learned at a young age that you can better leave things as they are.
Nature has always been an important motive in his life and it was no surprise that Rik went to study biology at the University of Utrecht after secondary school. When he finished his studies, he continued his way to do a PhD at Wageningen University and graduated in 2014 on the genetics of a little plant, called thale cress, which often occurs between the pavement and which some of us denigratingly call weeds, but nonetheless is by scientists known as 'model plant species of science'. In December 2018, Rik graduated from the Photo Academy in Amsterdam with his project on "The Monster van Brabant".
His work is mostly about the complex interaction between man and nature, and he wonders how far nature and culture are separated from each other. Are these dividing lines really present or are they only created by man? Are we ourselves and everything we do not part of nature and do we not just continue the evolution? Are our thoroughbred farm animals or poultry breeds still nature? And what about animals or plants that are created by new genetic techniques? How does a primeval forest relate to a Dutch forest?