Spoon Sculptures, 'Spoons for the Beurtvaartstraat', Apeldoorn (NL), 2012
Material: Ceramic spoon forms in bunches, 23 x various dimensions
Height varies from 1.50 to 0.60 m, width varies from 0.50 to 1.20 m; all approx. 0.25 m deep
Commissioned by: City Council Apeldoorn (NL)
CAD/CAM workshop: sundaymorning@ekwc
Execution in collaboration with Struktuur '68 Den Haag
Photos: Tanja Smeets
For many centuries Apeldoorn has had a network of streams and springs. The springs were dug from the sixteenth century to provide energy and water for milling. The pure groundwater was an essential resource for the emerging paper industry. But when the mills were converted to laundries and the wastewater drained into the streams, the system was polluted. In the 1930s the streams were either transferred below ground or filled in. In consultation with environmental agencies, Apeldoorn developed a plan to reinstate the water system. In the Beurtvaarststraat, north of the station, one of the streams has been allowed to flow above ground again.
Tanja Smeets was asked to design twenty-three 'gargoyles', which are both decorative and functional: they transfer rainwater from the street into the stream.
'The nice thing about a gargoyle is that it does something that is normally considered rude: it spits an arc of water from its mouth or beak.
But I wanted my sculptures to fit within their environment in a natural way and for there to be a logic, albeit a mad one, to the use of materials.
In Gouda I exhibited a sculpture made from Chinese soupspoons, and what is better suited to transporting liquids than a spoon?
During a residency at the European Ceramics Work Centre in Den Bosch, I developed moulds for spoons in four different formats. I then pressed clay into the moulds and stacked the spoons to form a basin where water can collect.'
The spoon sculptures have a white glaze and hang like bunches of mussels on the brick embankment. Because the spoons fan out in different directions, the sculptures spew the water, as if 'exploding with laughter', into the stream.
Running under the city of Apeldoorn is an underground system of brooks and seeping wells.
One of these brooks is being allowed to resurface in the Beurtvaartstraat. Tanja Smeets was asked to develop 23 'waterspouts' through which rainwater will be drained into the brook.
The spoon occurred to Tanja as a wonderful basic element for these spouts. By stacking them and playing with size and direction, she allows the water to run in various directions before it finally reaches the brook.
During her work period at sundaymorning@ekwc in 2011, she took the Chinese spoon as a starting point for four models, that were milled from PU Foam. From these models, moulds have been created from which hundreds of spoons were cast. Using a countermould she stacked and folded the spoons into 23 different structures that were then treated with a white glaze.