Bies Forest

You can find the beginning of the ‘Land Art Forest’ in the ‘BiesBosch’, which means the forest of Bies (common club-rush).
This area stands central for the land art, first as an example how we can give back and how we can recover nature. Second as this is the breeding ground for a lot of my thinking.

How it used to be

The changing of this area over the years has been to say the least, dramatic. The area was created by St. Elizabeth’s flood of 1421. Due to war and the rush for profits the dykes were neglected therefor on 18 November 1421 the water broke through and the area became an inland sea/delta.
Nature used the rivers to create land again with silt, bit by bit water became sandbank, sandbank became silt plate, silt plate became swamp with reed and rush and finally meadow.

The BiesBosch became an important fishing area, in 1910 thousands of salmon were caught in a year, yet 23 years later the salmon fishery was finished due to overfishing. The same goes for the ‘Steur’ (sea Sturgeon) a big fish which was used for the caviar. In 1900 438 Steur were caught in the BiesBosch and in 1925 just 3.
The land was used for hunting, there were several Duck decoys used to shoot Ducks in large numbers. This came also to an end and the income of the landowners came from the harvest of Willows and Rush, and cattle from the meadows.

Willows are used to make clogs

Even it was cultivated land it was rich in wildlife due to the swampy character and the dangers due to the tidal difference of 2 metres. A knowledge about the area was needed to wander around.
The best way to visit was by canoe all them small creeks with growth all over it due to neglect as the market for Willow and Rush had dropped thanks to the cheap plastic, which is still today cheaper than Willow.
It looked like a jungle in my childhood memories with lots of birds and filled with adventures.

water reservoir

no comment

All this came to an abrupt end when the Haringvliet was closed to protect Holland from the sea and to stop flooding from happening again.
A flood once created the BiesBosch now flood-prevention killed the BiesBosch.
There was only 20 centimetre difference between low and high water, the water became still and dead. Botulism moved in and many birds and fish died and several people were infected.
Straight after the dam came the reservoirs for water, 3 big concrete basins to store water. Not that we didn’t have enough rain but because the rivers became too polluted to give safe drinking water for the big city of Rotterdam.
A nature area of a total of 693 hectares (1712 acres) of land came under concrete basins filled with water in 1973.
3 Years later biologist from the TU Delft gave a public speech about how it should be different this was for me the turning point perhaps better a starting point that we can and should do it different.

Nature and culture can go together, you don’t need to make a choice. While i spread my wings to discover the world and study, the fight for the BiesBosch went on.
The result is fantastic. In the seventies a big turning point was created by them environmentalist which many of us have forgotten. GreenPeace and the Friends of the Earth made a big impact on decisions and companies had to stop pumping their poison into the rivers. Slowly the rivers became cleaner, we still have a long way to go but progress is made.
Clean rivers bring better water quality to the BiesBosch and better land management created new nature.

BiesBosch back to life

life back into the BiesBosch

It didn’t stop there, people started to care more and more, so the politics started to change according very slowly, as politics always do moves slowly.
The people at the BieBosch however didn’t sit still and waited, they worked hard to create changes to reintroduce wildlife back into the area.
The BiesBosch became a National Park in 1994 many land parcels were given back to nature. It is back to a delta were rivers can overflow preventing floods elsewhere, showing how nature can help.
Climate change brings more and heavier rain to our land, don’t forget around two/thirds of the land in the Netherlands is under sea level.
Once they wanted to get rid of the Willows now they are a respected part of the landscape.

Land Art in the BiesBosch

Land Art is a part of this nature regeneration where culture meets nature and shakes hands. The Moon Spiral  made by land artist Paul de Kort, a brilliant piece to walk and enter nature, proves this.
There are more plans to give land back to nature to change agriculture land into nature. It doesn’t even stop there, the dam at the Haringvliet will be opened permanently to let the fish back in. It took politics 14 years to finally realise that this is a good idea. In the meantime the Sea Sturgeon has been reintroduced into the rivers after more than 65 years  they swim perhaps back into the BiesBosch.

It just shows so clearly, that we can make a difference and that a long fight do give results, we can give back to nature and enjoying it. When we help nature we help ourselves.
On the moment the Land Art Forest is just in her baby shoes, not much more than a creative idea.
It will be a hard battle to see how a group of people can own it and how we can prevent it from being sold ever.

For now I am looking for people who like to be involved and who want to help. In the next series of blocks you can read about the lessons learned from other Land Art projects i did. The Land Art Forest will benefit from all them lessons.
The blog will be written in English next to this a book will be written in Dutch. The idea is that people can use this to create their own Land Art Forest where ever they are in the world.
For now the focus is on a Land Art Forest in Portugal and in Holland. Both forests will have to deal with extreme weathers and both will be used to regenerate nature by people themselves.

In the end the blog will share lots of information about products that will help, together with which trees can be planted best.

trees feed

Please feel free to share.

 

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land art forest

 

a drop in the ocean

The photos will always be related to LandArt, documenting that vanishing moment in LandArt. It comes as no surprise to go from a photo back into LandArt.

The organisers of the exhibition ask me to give a talk about my work at Clegyr Boia in Wales. How can a drop relate to 6 hectare of land, perhaps the feeling of really being just a drop in the oceaan while you know you should be so much more than a drop.
The little feed the big and the big feed the little, we forget, we give up before we start, feeling so little among the so big.
All them little drops form an oceaan, without a drop no oceaan. Remember, many little create a big.

mushroom power

LandArt alters the landscape, sometimes just a moment, sometimes forever. The artists have a dialoog with nature in a landscape and from that dialoog flows a sculpture which alters that landscape.
They add something to the landscape or they intervene in the landscape or they act in the landscape.

a shape at the edge

The LandArt at Clegyr Boia became a landscape. The lessons learned there on that plot of land act as a basis for the next piece of LandArt. A concept that will be used for several pieces of LandArt, all around the world.
So the photo exhibition will be the onset for something much bigger than a drop in the oceaan.
Trees will play a major role as they always play a major role in so many different landscapes. Trees are the backbone of a landscape.

Tree Flag

Learning from past mistakes, learning from past failures, moving into achievement.
A book will be written about the experience at Clegyr Boia with at the end how to move them experiences into an achievable LandArt Forest.
The notebooks came out of the cupboard, photos are searched and gathered an idea takes shape.
Research starts, into books, newspapers and internet to make the idea grow.
While writing about the past contacts are made for a network of people and organisations to add onto that base of a forest.
New notebooks come into action and in November there will be more than just a drop in the oceaan.
The exhibition has been moved to November 2018 at Alcoutim in Portugal.
To create time.

distance looking

 

STORY WHEEL

STORY WHEEL

The concept of a garden as a piece of art will be discussed for many years to come. The Japanese see gardens as art, no discussions there any more.

zen-scapeair1

Zen-Scape inspired by Japanese gravel gardens

We from Dabe-Art were talking about it; you can’t answer this question without talking about the criteria for art. Creativity would be a number one, unusual would be an other, using material in a different way and last but not least a thinking behind it (intellectual). For many people art ends by making something beautiful (aesthetic) for us at Dabe-Art it is more than creating something pretty.
When Derek Jarman made his garden in the last years of his life his aim was not beauty, he used different materials, not just plants, he had an idea  which developed while making the garden. The garden he created became art and people use it as an example for a garden as art.

visioncol

Vision 2004

Like any art a garden start with a base, the soil is for the gardener what an empty canvas is for a painter, or a block of clay for a sculptor. Before we create our art we work on the base,  the empty area. On the moment i work on the soil and like other artists while working on the empty the filling happens in the head.
A criteria for art we forgot is passion, if you don’t have the passion you will loose it already while making the empty base. The passion will filter through and makes it all worth doing.
You can understand why the Japanese gardeners made the weeding into something special, something creative, while weeding they create certain patterns otherwise their gravel would be hidden under a shower of greenery. The gravel gardens they made have inspired many gardeners for centuries, including myself.

wheel-walledgarden

wheel at the walled garden 1997

While reading Earthly Joy written by Philippa Gregory, about a famous English gardener and wanderer John Tradescant, it came to my mind to write a life story as a garden.
An autobiography written through landscapes into a garden landscape.
The soil from the garden gets shaped in an old design “The Wheel” a large circle divided in 8 triangels leading to an inner circle, like a wagon wheel. You will find the design in many old cultures around the globe. Each triangel of the Story Wheel will tell a story of a place where i lived during my life, reflecting how that place shaped experiences.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the Story Wheel where old and new will meet

The stories start at, yep the East, as there the day start as well as the night, sunrise, moonrise. Each triangle will hold a tree connecting the triangle to the place it describes. When all the flesh melts from the bones them trees will grow on and on changing the face of the land, hiding the written stories.

While weeding away, to have my blank canvas, my mind wanders to all them places and the piece, triangle by triangle starts to live and get filled.

So a new piece of Land Art began, which will grow on for many years to come just like many of my other Land Art.

You can follow here how it slowly but certainly take shape and how the creative story evolves.

 

MEEUWEN IN DE TUIN

SCHIMMEN SPELL

coincidence of no focussing camera
macro point of view
into infinity

eyes

eyes

TOEVALLIG
FORTUITOUS

unexpected random appearance
don’t like
record of time
waving by on constant
grommmrrrrr
looking for silence sight
finding literature gardens
standing in black past

black sight

black sight

ONVOORZIEN
ACCIDENTAL

observant mind draws an other
picture
alert neglect
movement flows in air
float on water
leaving no remark

schimmen spel

schimmen spel

ONWILLEKEURIG
UNWITTINGLY

it goes shining over dreams
inspirational Blues
seeding representation under
Windlight sims
mention in passing fine lines
divide us

what you see    what i see

what you see what i see

LUKRAAK
HAPHAZARDLY

a camera alone will never do it
eyes will not see it
together they show a screen

mP

Inspired by
http://www.moewenglanz.de

YEAR CONTEMPLATIONS

YEAR CONTEMPLATIONS

tunnel

tunnel

It was a floating year with changing water,
brown to black sometimes a bit of blue and see-through
and one moment just teal.

teal

teal

A journey with tree planting inside trees,
around trees, under trees,
floating trees finding their destinations in the soil of choice.

oaks

oaks

An expedition of rock collecting,
rock finding, rock digging,
pebbles scrubbing, colour dreming,
root rocks, soft rocks,
sculptured stones all on a roof top,
all displaced along the way by the planted tree.

tock de rock

tock de rock

A wander through water,
over water, under water,
raising water, tumble water,
shallow water to discover a new element.

yearaqua

A trek of freedom discovery,
past origination, forgotten stations,
hidden glory, silty stories,
sudden fading of layered horizontally.

freedom

freedom

A roving moment leaving the old harbour,
well behind the stored ships,
to enter deep sense oeuvre, daunting remakes,
what is behind does not remain.

de alvracht drie

de alvracht drie

A float surrounded by circles,
finding the inner coir,
displacing the outer mind as water becomes the soil,
linger to be silent drifting joy,
revealing miracles.

SPIRAL JOURNEY

SPIRAL JOURNEY

The next year celebration into a new direction
Spiral Journey
made without solitude engaging attitude.

happy NEW year

tree art

Many trees can be used to make living art. You make the sculpture by using the strength of growing trees, the tree takes part in the creating of the sculpture. The artist need to know the qualities of the tree they work with. Every tree have their own distinctive ways to survive in the harsh environment, each have their own evolutionary story to tell.

wrapped tree-art with Ash

wrapped tree-art with Ash

The Japanese make art with trees for centuries in the form of Niwaki, Japanese topiary. The artist prune the trees every year to create the shape they want.  With topiary you can make any shape you want, such as long you have the patience to prune the growing tree for many years.

Flag made with Sycamore

Flag made with Sycamore

The fast growing trees lend themselves for a different kind of tree art. We see many of the fast growing trees as weeds, as they spread so rapidly by seeds. When a tree seed herself in your garden you can even weed her out and plant her elsewhere or make her into a piece of art.

Net in an early stage

Net in an early stage

I used a 7 year old sycamore to make the sculpture ‘Net’. The tree was coppice to a hight easy to work from. When new shoots came in the spring, I choose a strong one and pruned the others away. The growing shoot was leaded along a bamboo stick, when bark formed on the shoot, I moved the bamboo stick to make the shoot grow in a different direction.

net 2 months later

net 2 months later

An other Sycamore, just 3 years old, became the Flag by bending and pruning, two shoots were allowed to grown in the natural direction towards the light. Next to them two Ash trees were used to make Wrap.

willow

willow

Willow has an other force that make them very useful to make living sculptures. They produce a high amount of growing hormones, the old rooting powders to help cuttings root, was made of Willow. This growing hormone gives Willow the strength to root easy and to heal wounds made by eating (pruning) animals. The next few months are the best to take cuttings from Willow and plant them where you want to make a living sculpture. You can cut them as long as you want but how older the branch how harder it is to take root and to bend the branch in the shape you want. The best is to look for an older tree and prune the branches and than wait till next season to prune the new grown branches.

willow ball

willow ball

I found a Willow, along the Shropshire Union Canal, which was pollard, the new shoots were woven and other were pruned away. Now a year later I have a great selection of new grown branches I can use for a new piece of work and planting. The woven branches start to make their own sculpture as they grow into each other as one.

how it looks now

how it looks now

the woven interaction

the woven interaction

The nice thing about making this art in a public area people will interact with it. The Willow hoop I made along the canal was broken yet somebody did like it as now i see this woven willow taken shape in the same spot where I made the last Willow hoop.

the old willow hoop

the old willow hoop

Now i will help whoever made this woven Willow and keep on weaving here. The other Willow sculpture is a bit hidden so more safe from judgement of the human eye. By weaving or pruning a Willow you don’t kill her or even damage her you help her to grow even more and stronger.

the new willow hoop made by a passer by

the new willow hoop made by a passer by

The pruned Willow you can plant by just sticking it in the ground or in the early spring by putting them in a vase with water to let them make roots. When there are some roots you can plant them where you would like.  Willow is brilliant tree to use for land art as a part of the Bridge Land Art Forest.

willowart rockwillow6monthslater

Hollow Tree OAK

One day i found a hollow part of a trunk along the Shropshire Union Canal. Somebody discarded it as no use for burning as the centre is half rotten and some of the wood was composted into soil. The idea to use it one day to plant it with a tree in it an old tree giving space to a new tree even feeding giving soil to the new tree. The hollow tree trunk lived for several weeks now on top of the roof looking a part of the small land-art garden.

the roof garden

the roof garden

The soil washed away during the travels but has been replaced once again with soil from a mole-hill and one of the small Oaks found her new home in it. Here it will grow for the next few months until we are back at the Shropshire Union Canal where she will be planted with trunk and all in the soil to grow.

the tree trunk

the tree trunk

From this came the next planting. An old tree trunk next to the Trend and Mersey Canal, a dead Willow. The last planting had a circle of willows around the Oak this time the Oak went into the Willow. Willow trees don’t grow old but do grow fast, at their end of life circle they become hollow and just fall over.

digging out

digging out

This Willow tree was wisely cut and left, it was a big tree with several stems. If you pollard a Willow it can become a good old tree but will also hollow out creating a brilliant habitat for wildlife while the tree keeps on growing. We saw many along the canals, they become real sculptures.

the soil mixture

the soil mixture

The Willow had a soft centre which i removed al the way down to the bottom and filled it with old coffee, tea and soil with plenty of stones for drainage. It felt like a sponge so soft and very wet, my arm was just long enough to come to the bottom. The little Oak went in, no need for water the surrounding tree trunk will act as a sponge while the rain can dribble away to the bottom through all the rocks. You can see the stinging nettle taking well advantage of the rotting tree-trunk. The nettles feeding in their turn the surrounding soil for any plant who comes along on the wind.

new tree in old tree

new tree in old tree

The Oak will slowly grow and become old, the tree-trunk will slowly but certainly rot away around the new tree. The soil can wash away from the bottom leaving some bare old roots but the Oak will grow on evolving in her own root sculpture. Before the root sculpture to appear many years will pass as nature has no haste. Around her some rocks were placed from the places she visited on her trip on top of the boat.

the rocks from the canals

the rocks from the canals

Sand stone from the Shropshire Union Canal, flint from the Grand Union canal from the Cassiobury park where one of her sisters grows now, a round pebble from the Coventry Canal. One pebble came from Trefin Beach the root of the bridge planting that I do.

tree sensation

tree sensation

Finally she got an inscription of tree sensations.

here we go again

here we go again