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B ar t Lodew ijk s Noorde re iland Draw ing s 1

E nglis h

A B e d of C halk

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N oordereiland Draw ings B art Lodew ijk s , 20 20 -20 21

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In ab out 18 70 a narrow s trip of R ot terdam -S outh was c ut off from the re s t by the c ons truc tion of a new harb our, K onings haven. T his b e c ame N oordereiland, w hic h is c onne c te d to the c it y by two bridge s : the W illems brug and the K oninginnebrug . In honour of the is land ’s 15 0 th annivers ary, I am de s c ending on it for a y ear with my c halk and level. T he foundation that c ommis s ioned me has a great-s ounding name: S tic hting Dragende M uur (Load-B earing W all F oundation). T hey have as ked that I c reate a permanent work of art for the is land; I want to make an artwork tailor-made for the loc als , one that als o las ts 15 0 years , without wearing through. B ut w ho ex ac tly are the s e is land inhabitants? To get a fe el for that, I b e gin by lay ing dow n a b e d of c halk . O nly then c an I dare s tart think ing ab out s omething that might remain. B art Lodew ijk s 1


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G hent, B elgium, M ay 20 20 I was planning the s e nex t few we ek s to go to N oordereiland from G hent, w here I live, but the b order w ith the N etherlands is c los e d . O nly s tric tly e s s ential traff ic is allowe d during the loc kdow n, and all the bac k roads have b e en bloc ke d by c ontainers . M y work is an ex erc is e in humilit y, and b e c aus e humilit y is a great v irtue, I de c ide not to tempt fate . I s tay home and travel in my mind, c los ing my ey e s and c ros s ing my arms right in the middle of my s tudy. T he s ilenc e is a s torm that rage s around me . It re quire s s urpris ingly lit tle eff ort to bring the is land to life . A s eagull fly ing over my head laughs at my ins ignific anc e . T he oc ean s los he s in my ears . T he bit ter s c ent of water, w ind and indus trial pollution s c ratc he s my throat. I announc e my arrival by blas ting a s hip’s horn out low ac ros s the water‌ M y trip w ill not remain imaginary for long .

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During the loc kdow n I s pend time on ’ t E ilandje, in the old doc k y ards of A ntwerp. I draw a horiz ontal line of c halk on a prefab roof c ons truc tion s tanding ready on the quay. Tomorrow or s oon af ter, this w ill b e c ome the top of s ome tall apartment building – a building that w ill prov ide a v iew, in ex tremely c lear weather, of ‘my ’ unreac hable is land in R ot terdam .

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In A ugus t and S eptemb er I s tart draw ing on N oordereiland . T he pe ople ’s s torie s c ome fas ter than I antic ipate d .

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‘I us e d to c olle c t old s hip’s rope,’ s ay s the lorry driver.

‘ T hey made dollar bills from it.’

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‘ T he s hippers s ay that inland nav igation is a law in and of its elf, and they ’re right ab out that.’

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‘Hunger on earth is not a produc t of failure s on the part of the farmers …

… but the re s ult of failing dis tribution network s .’

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M y draw ings thrive in rough plac e s .

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I dis trus t b eaut y but am forever enc ountering it.

Draw ing w ith c halk is a bat tle agains t ae s thetic s .

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N ot all of my draw ings s tand out.

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A s I’m draw ing , I’m c ons tantly aware that I c ould fall into the water.

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I inc orporate round forms into my draw ings .

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I me et intere s ting pe ople .

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N oordereiland is s hape d like a s hip. It has 3,6 0 0 re s idents .

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In 20 0 5 it was grante d prote c te d s tatus as a c ons er vation area .

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T he Nieuwe M aas is a very busy s hipping route .

T his is land has b e en inhabite d by inland waterway s s hippers for age s .

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‘H ow do y ou maintain y our foc us w ith all this ac tiv it y ? ’ as k s a man in a c aptain’s hat.

‘I was a c rane operator, but af ter my w ife die d, I c ouldn’ t take it any more .’

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‘I los t my foc us and s tarte d to drif t.’

‘B ut then I found it again by mak ing mandalas .’

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C aptain B ert doe s n’ t mind if I draw in his s hip’s hold .

‘I’ve b e en moore d here s inc e las t N ovemb er.’

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‘M y w ife and I s aile d through north-we s t E urope for 42 y ears .’

‘E very we ekend we would drive bac k to s e e our two b oy s at s c hool.’

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‘B oth of them now s ail the A R A , the A ms terdam – R ot terdam – A ntwerp line .’

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T he s te el pipe minimiz e s s ideway s pre s s ure w hen heav y c argo is b eing s hippe d .

‘ T he draw ing on the pipe c ame out b et ter than the one in the c argo bay,’ s ay s B ert.

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T he pipe elic its a partic ular foc us .

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T his interior wall of the bay is not on the rainy s ide, s o the draw ing holds up.

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‘ T he c halk reminds me of w inter, w hen the b oy s would s k ate on the ic e,’ B ert s ay s .

‘I’m going to try my luc k bac k ons hore,’ I s ay to him .

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S imon and his five -y ear-old s on give me a friendly s mile w hen I as k if I c an draw on their hous e .

‘O ff ic ially, nothing ’s allowe d on the faç ade, but w here ’s the fun in that? ’ s ay s S imon.

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C aptain B ert happens by and s ay s , ‘ T hat ’s a nic e triangle y ou’re draw ing there .’

I as k him point-blank , ‘D o y ou want a draw ing like this in y our c abin? ’

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In the c argo bay, I lay the groundwork for the draw ing IÂ want to make in the c abin.

I prac tic e work ing w ith brow n c halk , ins pire d by the b eautiful rus t y hue s there .

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‘M y w ife H enriët te has b e en in the hos pital for a w hile, s o I live alone on the s hip.’

‘ T hos e two paintings were b ought by my w ife twent y y ears ago, near C olmar.’

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‘S he s ay s that any s tripe s on c lothing ne e d to b e vertic al, otherw is e y ou look fat. S ame thing ’s true here in the c abin.’ ‘ T he vertic al s tripe s make the s pac e s e em taller,’ B ert de c ide s .

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‘ W e thought y ou were urinating ,’ s ay s a polic eman.

‘I’m mak ing c halk draw ings on N oordereiland,’ I s ay.

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‘ T hen we ’ll s e e the draw ings as they appear,’ s ay s the b obby b efore mov ing on.

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A gaunt old man w ith a b eard watc he s my ac tions from a dis tanc e .

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‘A re y ou draw ing s ome s ort of mooring pos t? ’ he as k s in a voic e like an outb oard motor.

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H e ’s a retire d tugb oat c aptain w hos e name is H arry.

‘M y tugb oat was c alle d “ E erland 26 ”.’

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‘I re s c ue d a lot of pe ople from the c aps iz e d ferry H erald of F re e E nterpris e w ith her.’

‘B ut I als o had fif te en dead b odie s on my de c k . C off e e? ’

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H e pours c off e e into a mug in his k itc hen. P hotos of the E erland de c orate the wall.

I give it a s hot and as k , ‘C an I draw on y our k itc hen wall? ’

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‘N o,’ he re s ponds re s olutely and c ontinue s his s tory ab out the re s c ue mis s ion w ith the E erland .

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‘I was wondering w hat intelligent c hild might have draw n s uc h a thing ,’ s ay s a well-to -do woman.

‘ T hey ’re diagonal c halk s tripe s w here I’ve lef t one line open,’ I s ay.

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I alway s leave the we e ds b e .

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A dog pe e d on the draw ing .

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I s tart s ketc hing s traight onto the wall.

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I’m ac c ompanie d by O s c ar, a re s ident w ho s upplie s me w ith c off e e and c ake .

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‘ Your draw ings are popping up every w here,’ he s ay s .

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I didn’ t re que s t permis s ion to draw on the apartment building .

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‘If there are any problems , y ou’ll b e an ac c e s s ory,’ I s ay to O s c ar.

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‘I don’ t like y our draw ings ,’ s ay s a dapper man w ho live s in the hous e ac ros s the s tre et.

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O ne re s ident allows me to draw in her garden.

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A draw ing is s uc c e s s ful w hen it b e c ome s ‘part of ’ the s tre ets c ape, as if it was alway s there .

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C halk draw ings don’ t dis appear, they are alway s busy emerging .

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N oordereiland Draw ings B art Lodew ijk s , 20 20 -20 21

T his proje c t was c ommis s ione d by M U R A L S Inc . / S tic hting Dragende M uur. S pe c ial thank s to M arle en van W ijngaarden.

Draw ings , tex t and photos by : B art Lodew ijk s C opy e diting: Danielle van Z uijlen w ith thank s to Jan K empenaers Image e diting: Huig B artels E nglis h trans lation: Nina W oods on G raphic de s ign: R oger W illems , R oma P ublic ations , A ms terdam

S upporte d by : M ondriaan F onds , B KO R – C B K R ot terdam, P rins B ernhard C ultuurfonds , Van O mmeren de Voogd S tic hting , E liz e M athilde F onds , S tic hting B evordering van Volk s k rac ht

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Profile for Roma Publications

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Bart Lodewijks: Noordereiland Drawings 1 - A Bed of Chalk (English)  

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