Crystal woods — Leiffenderven 3

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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. The Crystal-woods-journals. The Crystal woods story consists of photographs, maps and paintings. In Crystal woods — Introduction one can find global information about this project.

Kairos, the circular time

November 9, 2018: The perception of time as a circular dynamic in life is becoming clear to me once more. After forty years it seems that I arrived at the same point in the circular time as I was in 1979 and 1980 when I experienced for the first time the emptiness of the Frisian winter landscape. Today I walk through the Leiffender marsh and watch how the mist makes the landscape empty. I feel how my inner space doesn’t want to be fuller, but more empty, and that my paintings emptier and silent.

About 1980 when I made paintings of the Frisian landscape with a minimum of figuration and color. I learned to paint with a handwriting of fine color dashes that evoked myriad partikels of light-space as emptiness. Twenty years later I paint however the fullness of the landscape, the richness of shape and color of the forest and of places of power — at the same time it is my own fullness, the ‘red place’ inside of me.

One of my favourite places in the Leiffender marsh shrouded by mist

Space synonymous with liberation

Januari 22, 2019: In the husky early evening I walk through the virgin snow to the mound at the confluence. The greyish winter landscape fades away in the fine snowfall. It reminds me of some special walks that I made in Friesland during the winter of 1979, when the concept ‘space’ for me became synonymous with breath, liberation and boundlessness.

In the distance one can see the mound at the confluence covered with snow, at the left the young willow and alder wood
The boundary; egg tempera on canvas, 50⨯40 cm, 1979

Januari 1979: “From my house I walk into the virgin white space. Mist and snow wipe out all limits — houses, ditches, roads, the horizon, and also a part of me — the limitation of my presence. Inner and outer space seem to merge. It makes space round, intimate, and at the same time limitless. Mist and snow glow silently in opal white light, as a whiteout. I walk back until the small light of our house looms up as a beacon in the vague space, and return into the cosy house where my two sons are playing.”

From my house I walk into the serene, white space
Misty Frisian winter landscape, 1980

At last I come out of the forest

Januari 31, 2019: Today I come out of the forest at last! After twenty-four years I decided to distance myself to the forest, to make space for new inspiration. The walk I make today seems to confirm this idea: the elongated fields nearby Hillensberg are covered with a thin layer of powder snow, just enough for the withered stalks and tiny green blades of grass to emphasise the wide perspective on a rhythmic way.

Snow covered fields near Hillensberg

March 15, 2019: During two month I practice not-painting, giving in to weariness and trying not wanting too much. I feel how my inner landscape becomes emptier, gradually. Suddenly there is the insight: the empty hole of denial — once my search began with the denial of my connection with nature. Then there was the longing for confirmation. In vain, because the denial was hidden below it.

In 1993 I made an almost white painting in which I omitted all needless figuration; larch needles in the snow; egg tempera on wood, 50⨯50 cm, December 1993
White place; 40⨯50 cm, casein-tempera and oil paint on mdf, April 2019

April 9, 2019: In the introduction of my Crystal Wood Journal I wrote about: “Places that lay as islands of connection amid sand and grint quarries, golf courses and highways, or are threatened by logging.” I forgot to mention the plastic waste and the micro particles that penetrate all life forms.

Last week I planned to clear out the part of the Red Stream that is dotted with an enormous amount of plastic bottles, packages, small particles of polystyrene and tin cans all over the whole width of the brook bedding. But after one morning I realise it is rather much and depressive work to do on my own, so I ask a friend for some help. After several afternoons, wading through the mud, we have collected more than sixteen bags with plastic waste. I brief the nature organisation that manages this nature area that they can pick up the waste.

Gathered plastic waste near the Red Brook

Landscape-pain

I already knew the concept ‘guilty landscape’ — the artist Armando used it for landscapes in which all traces of war have been erased — and recently I learned the word ‘landscape pain’ in the eponymous book about the vanishing of meadow birds and insects and the current deadly silence in the Frisian meadow landscape, written by Jantien de Boer. These days I experienced ‘landscape pain’ at the skirt of my own village. Slowly we become aware of the pain we cause to the totality of all ecological systems by the constant denial of the unity of mankind and nature.

After these days of landscape-pain I continue focussing on painting the healing landscape once more…

A new willow wood grows near the confluence of the streams of the ‘Roode Beek’ and ‘Rodebach’, May 2017
A willow more powerfull as all other willows as a central point in the young willow wood