February 1st, 2024: Quest
From passage to quest
15 years ago I made the sculpture ‘quest’, during a masterclass by Adriaan Seelen and Gerard van Rooij. The theme for the whole group was passage. I am not used to giving words and meaning to what I make, before the form has even emerged. For me, creation is a movement that arises from within, similar to the working process in stone.
I began with: ‘What does passage mean?’. According to the dictionary: part of a piece of writing; passing by, crossing. To me, the word passage means: the transition between phases and stages of life. These are abstract concepts, but in general the abstraction, both in form and in language, speaks to my imagination the most. In the works of the Dutch poet J.P. Rawie, I found the poem quest, to be resonating with the concept of passage. ‘And who knows, what I miss most of all, may never have been’, the verse from Rawie’s poem that spoke most strongly to me. Saying goodbye to something that may never have existed. The transition from letting go of feelings about what could have been, to acknowledging what was.
‘Quest’ literally means: search for the Holy Grail. ‘A person’s urge to look for the most beautiful thing (your truest self)’ is how I translated it 15 years ago.
The sculpture I made consists of 3 parts: a solid base as a foundation for the rest of the sculpture. On top of that, a column split by wedges which could be seen as a path or riverbed and carrier of the top piece. This slightly convex shape reflects the sky and is reminiscent of a water-filled bowl that is overflowing.
The end result made people wonder whether this heralded a new direction in my design. My intuitive answer at the time was negative. By now I can actually see that the sculpture quest is a representation of a story with many passages.
Recently, looking up the meaning of quest, I found words in Wikipedia that fall on walked-on ground:
A quest is a search; a particular kind of search with the character of a life task. (… ) The word is used metaphorically for a task that one has set for oneself, but which is almost impossible to accomplish. Stories often involve an adventurous, long journey with major obstacles that the main character must overcome, with or without help.
Today I can confirm from my own experience: A quest is a journey that one can only make oneself, but there is always help when it is really needed.
January 30th, 2024: Roots
ROOTS – The plywood panels in my studio are parts of ‘The dancing tree’, a mobile I made 24 years ago as part of my graduation project. I took inspiration from the poem ‘On a tree’ by the Dutch poet Vasalis and in particular the sentence: ‘Just don’t move. Because who can bear it when a tree leaves its roots and starts dancing?’
Our roots represent where we come from. We cannot simultaneously deny our past and maintain our roots. The way of freedom is connection. Walking the path of freedom means daring to be visible, audible and knowable. Similar to the work process in stone: liberation comes from within.
January 4th, 2024: Mirage
The series of sculptures named ‘mirage’ (consisting of 6 sculptures) is based on the idea of stepping towards a point on the horizon that – like a mirage – is not yet clearly visible. Making the movement, without having completely mapped out the path. Like walking with a compass. The truth is that I don’t know how to find my way on a compass and even with a map in my hand I get lost. For finding my destination in everyday life there are various sources available, but how do I find direction when I’m sculpting? How do I find my way in stone?
‘How do you know in advance that ‘this’, this shape and also colors or structures of the material, is present in the stone?’, is a question that many people ask me when they look at my sculptures. In an attempt to answer that question, I then explain how I view and tap the stone when selecting my material. But perhaps the essence is that I make connection.
At the start of each new sculpture I enter unexplored territory. By connecting my idea, what I want to express, with the raw material, it is as if I am stretching a long line, like plotting the course on a compass. This way I can work in a discovering and investigative manner without losing sight of the direction. Every new sculpture, perhaps every movement, starts with that connection. By saying ‘Yes’, without being able to see exactly what it is I am moving towards.
This year I will move into new directions and make sculptures for which the ideas are already present. I look forward to meeting you along the way or upon arrival, by my sculptures.
December 18th, 2023: Transparency
In recent weeks, in the run-up to the longest night, I regularly posted on Facebook and Instagram about my work on the theme of light and darkness. With this piece in alabaster I wrote:
‘Light shows us what is beneath the surface … Light opens and brings (to) life. It creates movement, a flowing unity between what we see on the outside and what is present on the inside. Shape and stone, outer and inner.’
From the series of swan figures that I made between 2004 and 2008, this sculpture with the name gedaante (figure) is the only one that has not yet ‘spread its wings’. It is currently in my own home and every day I experience how the light touches the shape and material and brings it to life. Alabaster is the only type of stone that changes under the influence of the elements such as light, heat and cold. This makes it a stone that deeply radiates a delicate vulnerability.
Gedaante is about the inside. About the flowing and less clearly defined part of us. About the misty and the veiled. About who we are without a thick skin or hard shell or wall that separates our inside from the outside. About what becomes visible when we dare to be vulnerable and transparent. About how letting the light in leads to transformation.
January 4th, 2024