“The Italian word for a Meeting, Incontro, stood out for me. I carved the
word into stone and wood and now it has become the title of this exhibition!“
Thinking of Celleno I visualise the road to the village leading us to an elevated
ridge in the landscape, with a splendid view. The road is getting narrower and
narrower and takes you past the monastery; at the end of the village there are the
old ruin of the village and the castle.
In 2018 I was 56 years old and no longer active as a visual artist.
I finished art school in 1989 and worked as a full-time artist in Utrecht for four
years. After that, feeling the increasing need to work with people and be a more
active member of society, I looked for a part-time job. The next five years I
worked in the control room of a regional police district in Holland. We then
moved to Middelburg in the province of Zeeland, where I followed a course in
Didactic Retraining for Artists. I started working at Gallery and Workshop De
Kaai in the town of Goes, a workshop for people with a disability. I worked
there and combined this job with my creativity until I turned fifty. Working
there took up lots of my time and energy but I enjoyed it so much that I decided
to stop being a performing artist. I committed myself to presenting work of
artists of this gallery to the mainstream art world.
Marianne Schipaanboord’s art has been exhibited in London, Vienna and New
York and can now be seen at Museum Belvédère in Heerenveen, in the North of
the Netherlands. There is a documentary about her, called Paradise Glass Water
and I have contributed to making it with all my heart.
The moment Kees and I got the opportunity to work in Celleno for two months I
didn’t hesitate. This was a chance to restart my work, I thought, and do a project
in a limited amount of time without being distracted. I would develop something
new in complete freedom, regardless of all my previous work. It was to be an
intense experience, both confronting and inspiring.
I had brought drawing paper, sketchbooks, ink and ecoline from home and had
read about the Etruscan history of the surroundings.
What I wanted to reach most, emotionally, was to try and be there completely
and allow myself to undergo this and let things come up to me. This literally
meant sitting at the window and looking out a lot, as well as going outside for a
walk in the countryside.
My latest work of art had been a jewel with words, cut out of silver. This
became the starting point for the work I wanted to get done in Celleno. I wanted
to collect words, and gradually the idea originated to make drawings with them.
Every day I found a word that suited that special day, the weather, or my
emotions. The word had to correspond with what I saw, with what we went
through, be it rain, feeling homesick, or meeting someone. And I kept a diary. I
translated the words into Italian straight away and I made pencil sketches with
these words. After two months I had collected over sixty of them. Once a month
I made a combination of them in a pen-and-ink drawing.
One word, Incontro (a Meeting), stood out for me. I carved the word into a piece
of wood I had found at the ruin. Having visited lots of burial places and
museums about the Etruscans, I translated the word Incontro into Etruscan
letters too, and carved these into tuff.
It was a special experience for me to work on my own for two months. The first
month was quite hard. The weather was often bad and I felt homesick. Besides, I
didn’t master the language and communicating was difficult. The villagers were
really friendly and luckily Andrea, the landlord in the pub, spoke English. Due
to my word project saying something in Italian became easier, even if it was
only a single word like pioggia (rain).
Meeting Massimiliano was a special event. He is the owner of the garage just
outside the village. One day we broke a spring of the car because of the many
potholes in the roads. Hearing about him through the pub we ended up there. He
is a nice person and his garage is really chaotic. While we were waiting for him
we walked around a bit and discovered a small, self-sufficient plot of land
behind the workshop, with a pig, chickens, and a kitchen garden. You don’t
often come across this in Holland. The mechanic had a little problem finding the
right spare part but eventually he managed to solve this and we could be on our
In our neighbourhood we especially visited smaller towns like Orvieto,
Tarquinia, and Tuscania. Later on we travelled a bit further, to Spoleto and
Assisi. The Etruscan culture has made a great impression on us. The graphic
structure of the Etruscan script is beautiful. I mean the image of it rather than its
meaning, for the language of the Etruscans has hardly been deciphered yet.
We were happy to notice that there had been other artists at CAM that we knew.
We could get some information about the surroundings from them. At Casa
Amenta Maria I felt a connection to them and am looking forward to meeting
them in August, when our works of art will be on display together. In September
2018 Kees and I had an exhibition about our Celleno project in Zeeland
At Incontro 2020 I will show the works of art that I have given to CAM as a
present. These are two rather small framed works on paper and the carved
Etruscan letters in tuff. I also want to make a special image of iron wire on the
Translation Hans Kal