Crystal woods — Introduction

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All journal-items with the title ‘Crystal woods’ form a whole and are part of a new project. During 2017 I expanded my research for nature and life-energy to seven woods in a range of 10 km around my living place in Schinveld, the Netherlands. The Crystal woods story consists of photographs, maps and paintings.


It always begins with the walks I love to make in search for the sacred landscape, that lays hidden for the eye below the cultural landscape. After 30 years I searched thoroughly all forests in my vicinity, but again and again there are new places that ravish me. In consequence I found some fascinating places in natural areas during some walks in 2017. The coming period these places will be the main source of inspiration for the Crystal woods series.

The seven locations in the basin of the Red Stream, December 2017

Each time I feel attracted by such a location and the trees that grow there, and roam around while forgetting time, it feels as finding back something that has been lost. What kind of places I’m aiming at here? I mean the places that attract me by hardly damaged nature as well as by a sense of completeness, totality and connection, a sense of ‘all is here’. And most of all I feel joy and wonderment when I’m there. Sometimes I’ve been sitting down on such a place thinking that the sun was braking through, while it still was grey and cloudy as I opened my eyes. Light plays a roll, low sunlight penetrating the the woods, as well as the radiating colours of life energy that one can perceive on these places with eyes shut.

And how to name them? Several notions I considered, such as ‘natural sanctuary’ and ‘sacred garden’, but the beautiful German word ‘Lichtung’ does approach it the best: an open place in the forest where the light falls in. ‘Open’ in the meaning of opening to a flowing, borderless dimension. In the end I chose for the name ‘Crystal woods, because it refers to light, transparency, geometry and nature.

The concept of ‘Crystal woods’ expresses the way that I connect with the totality of a natural place. But then how to represent all this, the seen together with the unseen?

Islands of connection

The areas that I can reach while walking are located in the drainage basin of the ‘Roode Beek’, in the border area between the cities of Sittard and Heerlen (Limburg, the Netherlands). The cause of these selected places clamped as islands in the mids of sand, clay and gravel quarries is the primal river Maas, that once flowed here. However I still experience them as islands of connection.

Female triangle with white, red and black place in the Schinveld Forest, 2017

Topography of the boundless

If I connect the corners these spots create an almost equilateral triangle. This triangle got well together with the equilateral triangle of the Schinveld Forest, the territory where I found my inspiration during many years. I learned that these three spots — white, red and black — represent the most basic structure of the (female) life-energetic principle in the landscape: virginity, fertility and transformation.

From the beginning geometrical forms did play a role in my work; in this frame the triangle, circle, rectangle and parallelogram appear as the geometrie of the life-energetic dimension and the serene, timeless space.

Diary with map of the main life-energetic structure in the Schinveld Forest, 2007

Next to the stream of the ‘Roode Beek’ the Feldbiss anfractuosity represents the primal force of earth fire. While making my first sketch of this territory with the seven locations I notice to my surprise how three locations are there where three arms of the ‘Roode Beek’ coincide with the Feldbiss anfractuosity. The seven locations are in: