Sabang

This is to explain the rationale behind this print. It’s about maps. If there’s anything at all I have had a passion for, it was for maps and charts. If you read them well they tell stories, some from a long time ago, some more from recent times.

Not always do they tell you where you’re off to, but also where you came from.

Sabang on the island of Pulu Weh north of Sumatra is where in a sense my journey started.

Where my parents and my sisters, having survived the war in the east, found each other months after the actual hostilities ceased. I left from there in the belly of my mother, making her sick as a dog in the hold of a ship taking survivors back to Holland while nuns looked after my sisters. After a time the family returned to Sumatra.

A big part of my life and how I am was shaped in that region shown in the print.

For a child, life in that region was an exciting adventure and my parents managed quite well to shield us children from all that was happening around us. The unrest after the war when Indonesia became independent until the time the Dutch were expelled in 1958.

Only after I lived and worked as an adult in conditions of civil unrest and labour disputes on plantations in West-Africa could I come anywhere near to understanding what they went through.

My parents had a tough time before the war in Aceh and in the camps. After the war, while their world kept on falling apart, I had an absolutely dream childhood, living on the plantations, going to school later on in Medan and enjoying the fantastic holidays we had in the mountains in Brastagi.

My first childhood idea of a map was that the entire distance between Indonesia and Holland was coloured green on the map and to me that meant that it was all jungle (some may argue that it is actually the case). When we were going on half a year’s leave in 1953 I figured that we needed firewood for cooking on the boat.

To cut a long story short, I was engulfed with impressions and was so fascinated that ever since then when travelling by boat or by plane I made sure not to close my eyes if I could help it, always making sure where we were on the map and never missing a thing.

This print on heavy cartridge paper printed with Charbonnel etching ink. At the time the weather was very very warm and the humidity extremely low. No show at all using waterbased elements etc. It was drying before my eyes.

It looks as if I want to do any dry pigment, water and ricepaste printing I have to reserve that for the high humidity days which we do get during autumn, winter and early spring.