In the year 2000, when I turned 65, I decided to realise a dream from my youth: sculpting. I used to draw and mould clay with dedication under the guidance of our art teacher, Jan Elffers, at the Montessori Lyceum in Amsterdam. The classroom, a sprawling attic, was located on the top floor. You could drop in at any time during the school day – as long as your schedule showed that you had a ‘free period’. As I’d climb the stairs, I’d have to suppress the thought that maybe I should have been working on one of my other subjects. After I graduated, I considered applying to the Academy of Visual Arts, but instead, chose to study biology and consoled myself with the thought that taking biology would mean plenty of time to keep drawing. In the first years of the 21st century, I took up modeling and portrait drawing lessons again, and immediately realised what I’d enjoyed all those years ago. In the summers of 2001 and 2002, in Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo, two sculptors from Tengenenge, Zimbabwe – Criswell Zantala and Cloud Tapureta – taught some wonderful classes. They worked in softer types of stone such as Serpentine and Opal. During that period, I also took art classes at the MK24 art school (Mauritskade 24), which grew out of ‘De Werkschuit’, an aesthetic renewal movement that sought to expose young people to all forms of art. Here I was taught by Ada van Wonderen and Willibrord Huijben, who both encouraged me to work with harder types of stone, such as Pierre de Lens, because they noticed that I was looking for ways to make sharper shapes. I continued my work in harder stone at The Sculpture School Under the Bogen. There, three sculptors – Da van Daalen, July Wickel and Marianne van den Heuvel – gave passionate classes in a space best described as two atmospheric interconnected catacombs. In the period 2001–2009, I took lessons from Marianne van den Heuvel. In addition to teaching sculpture, she also took us to exhibitions far and near as well as stimulate passionate discussions during lessons. For example, we discussed whether you should in the final sculpture recognise what you were thinking and feeling while sculpting it. I’m still not sure, and maybe this is what encouraged me to start accompanying my images with stories and poems, which came to be called Impressions in Stone.
Anne-Ruth Wertheim Back
With Criswell Zantala.
Impressions in Stone (translation: bart plantenga)