Bantpolder Observatorium

Bantpolder is a nature reserve and lies near the ferry crossing to Schiermonnikoog. The bitumen dike appears on the left seen from the road when northward bound.

In 2004 my first thought was swiftly scribbled down; ‘the memory of a storm become stillness, now embedded in an upturned sculpted boat’. This thought was to be built and placed within a Friesian dike that once marked the meeting between land and sea.

Encrusted in bitumen the dike was as much road as defence again the sea. Now it is the haunt of wintering Barnacle geese and Summer waders.

The first time of walking the dike, together with a friend, I took photographs of the landing geese every second or so. This movement was used to inspire the shapes of the roofs of simple models based on sculpting sheds. Two versions of observatories for looking at the birds were made. One was made as if it were an upturned boat made out of new pieces of specially cut steel plates. The second version proposed an off-the-shelf Friese Tjalk, cutting it into several pieces and putting them together again in a new shape before turning the welded piece upside down. Both models proposed embedding the structure into the dike so the visitors could see the geese from ground level looking out from both sides of the dike. The splice along the length of the dike is a walkway that allows the visitor to remain unseen in getting to the observatorium.

When first walking the dike, droppings from goose and sheep were used to sketch the gently undulating lines of the polder and to trace the landing movements of geese. If ever built, if not in the Bantpolder then elsewhere, the upturned steel-hulled boats will be smeared with goose excrement so that lichens and moss will grow, slowly making the work become one with the dike, and one with the movement of birds and the slower and less visible, but no less significant, shifts in the ground.

Client: Gemeente Dongeradeel, Fryslan, NL
In collaboration with Tony de Haan, Vereniging Natuurmonumenten


_welded together, embedded in dike _looking towards observatorium _28 slices then scanned _taken directly from scanned model _ aligned to make the shed _with sculpted roof and dike splice new welded sculpted shed as boat _embedded in dike _re-using a Friese Tjalk _rolled out on WSW facing flank _plasticine on wet clay _placed in the polder _placed on the dike _ later embedded in the dike _with walkway along splice _with sea dike beyond the polder _from 1855 to 1969 _ through splice in the dike