Terschelling, April 5, 2020
Islands have always played an important role in my life and work. I was raised on an island in Zealand – Walcheren – and I spent years and years roaming its beaches. Later, I visited and lived in places like Taquile (Titicaca), Becquia and the Grenadines. Marielle and I explored even more remote islands: Iceland, Tasmania, and Naoshima, among others. And last year we spent a rather cold and damp, but entirely satisfying summer on the Faroër islands. All the time, islands to us were a place to concentrate on our work and forget about the distractions of everyday life.
Faroe Islands (181 patients)
But things are changing. Living and working on Crete in the early 1980’s, I had to take the ferry to Athens to send texts by fax to my publisher- there wasn’t a serviceable fax machine on the island. Now, there’s hardly any place in this world without Wifi or Internet connection. It’s a simple market mechanism: if you have a hostel or a holiday cottage without Wifi, the guests just won’t come. The good thing about being on our Quarantine Island is, that while we are more or less bombarded with overviews of an unfolding global drama, we have the time and peace & quiet to concentrate on smaller and possibly more important things.
A grand view of our present island cottage – mark the earth’s curve…
And the green stuff popping up around our house
So much for island philosophy. Although… I haven’t mentioned yet that we are simultaneously working on another (island) project. At the end of the year, if the all-powerful Crown allows, Marielle and I will have an exhibition with Katy Woodroffe from Tasmania. We revisited the island almost two years ago, and I was again overwhelmed by the homely weirdness of the place. The show will be in the Dutch town of Schijndel, at the end of this year.
From a series of stereo photographs made in Tasmania (2006)
One of the most disturbing stories about Tasmania is this: about 10.000 years ago, the land bridge between Tasmania and Australia was washed away by the rising sea level. The aboriginals living in Tasmania were isolated from their mainland family and, over the course of the centuries, they lost their culture.
They almost completely forgot how to make clothes, fire or tools and lived on the island’s beaches, naked and subsisting mostly on shellfish. The story is remarkably similar to that of the Haush Indigenas in Tierra del Fuego, and like them they were an easy prey for the white men, when they came.
Possible tools, digital watercolour, 2020
So for the coming exhibition I am developing ideas about disappearing and emerging tools, making watercolour notes on the computer to prepare for a ceramic session in Guldagergaard, Denmark. Again, if the Corona gods allow, we’ll be working there this autumn and I want to make series of crumbling ceramic works, somewhere in between tools, protheses, and natural objects. The gallery’s floor as a beach. And beachcombing along Terschelling’s coastline helps a lot, of course.