Beeldenroute Westersingel

Suddenly the unusually long and warm summer is over. The days are shortening, the nights are chilly, and the rain is back to stay. It is time to check over the heating system for the flat, to bring out the woollens and the Goretex, and to look for things to do indoors. But before I turn my mind to winter, one last look back at something that is best enjoyed under sunny skies. Outdoor public sculpture.

Ongebroken Verzet by Hubert Lith, described in a post at the end of August, stands at the top of the Westersingel, a canal that runs south in a straight line toward the river Maas. The canal was completed in 1860 as part of a grand project to improve hygiene. A cholera epidemic in 1854 had concentrated minds and the town council approved plans drawn up by the Director of Public Works, a man by the fragrant name of W.N. Rose, to improve access to clean water in the city.

Today, I would hardly choose to drink out of the Westersingel, but I often pass that way to enjoy the collection of outdoor sculpture, the Beeldenroute. The works span about a century, a Rodin from 1905, L’Homme qui Marche, is the oldest one, and the most recent additions date to 2001. The materials range from bronze and limestone to concrete, steel and polyester, even air pumps and PVP pipes.

Job Koelwijn installed writing on the water with a nod to Samuel Beckett, No matter try again fail again fail better. The lovely La Grande Musicienne by Henri Laurens from 1938, all tactile and voluptuous curves, looks different from every angle and changes with the quality of the light. Mastroianni’s Farewell, a flurry of movement and passion as lovers embrace before parting, appears a jumble of angles and planes until, suddenly, you see the two figures clearly.

Giuseppe Penone’s Elevazione, a play on trees, is still developing. A bronze tree trunk, cast from a tree that fell in the forest near Turin where the artist lives and works, is elevated above the ground, apparently floating, but interacting with an extant beech and four alders that were planted in 2001.

At the far end of the canal, Frans and Marja de Boer Lichtveld have installed a huge polished steel circle with a small gap cut into it. I often stop to observe the slice of Rotterdam held inside the circle, and as the trams pass by, I imagine a huge rumbling and vibration as a ball of lightning bursts through the circle to reveal a portal to another dimension.

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