But when the morning-star with early ray
Flamed in the front of Heav’n, and promis’d day,
Like distant clouds the mariner descries
Fair Ithaca’s emerging hills arise.
From The Odyssey
Why am I doing this? What does justify this struggle which comes hand in hand with making? Why going through this constant battle with materials and their nature, forcing, rejecting, compromising, restarting, losing or winning, accepting…
There is a different answer for every person.
For me, there is one intimate and deeply personal that keeps me going, trying and persisting when situations become precarious during making. It is the answer to the question whether this can be done.
Can the idea and design that my mind created take flesh and blood and become real and tangible? Can I get this moment of truth where I can lay my hands on the wounds and believe? As a sculptor, I feel like the doubting Thomas; I am not satisfied by the world of ideas and thoughts, by the world of the unconstrained and unlimited dreams. I want to touch, to see, to grasp, to caress, to smell, I want to sense the reality of matter. And only then I am happy, knowing that my ideas have transformed into material shapes, knowing that what I have made is out there in the imperfect world of reality. It does not matter if it is for only a fraction of a second. I long for a fugitive moment of a glimpse of the shores of Ithaca. This view of reality is enough to keep me going to the next adventure.
The installation of Dendrite was a bigger challenge than I expected, even after a month of thorough preparation, testing and planning. I knew that I would have to adapt to the conditions on site, but as in most things, experience is only gained the hard way. The first day unfolded mainly as expected and the foundations of the initial section were completed just in time before rain forced us to withdraw for a lovely dinner with our generous hosts and fellow artists. The surprises were kept for the second day. After raining all night, the ground was very damp and soft and took 3 long hours and lots of ingenuity to fix the central supporting leg. Then the race with the clock started as the fitting of the 2 branches should take place after the curing of the adhesives in order to avoiding stability risks. After 4 hours of wait I decided to remove the supports and see if the sculpture could hold itself.
It was a moment of splendour and horror. The first glimpse of the work in its entity was much better than what I had in mind. The real thing was truly there and so rightly placed. The angles were right and wrong in a perfect balance, the colours were strange but inviting and the arthritic form had the internal energy of a compressed spring. Hellas, this energy proved too strong for the joints where the adhesives had not fully cured, probably due to the wet weather. As the slow tension showed signs of opening joints, I had to stop the process and start repairs. But it was then that the rain started again and after a couple of miserable hours I realised that the materials were not setting and it would become messy if I continued working. I felt bad on the one hand because I would have to keep my good father in law another night away from home and on the other hand because I would have to ask Rinus for more time than initial planned for. But the understanding, support and hospitality of both Rinus and Aniet was exceptional and they kept us for another night making us feel as comfortable as possible.
All it was needed was time. The next day the structure has proved itself strong enough and within a gentle 2 hours of dry weather we managed to finish the repairs in the joints and complete the job. My heart was back in its place and the end of this journey was now within grasp. It was long and hard but wonderfully adventurous and full of exciting discoveries. Raising more questions than the answers it gave. Sowing the seeds for the next one to come.