A Giant Sculpture marks the highest point of the ‘Hoge Mouw’ nature reserve in Belgium, and connects with the natural and cultural history of the region.
A mythical landscape
Architect and artist duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh created this permanent, site-specific sculpture for the nature reserve Hoge Mouw near Kasterlee, Belgium. A varied landscape with coniferous forests on sandy soil, with moors, fens, open sand drifts, hollow roads and streams. This unique nature reserve is rich in mystical stories dating back to pre-Christian cultures. Gijs Van Vaerenbergh placed A Giant Sculpture on the highest point of the ridge, on the 30-metre high land dune of the Hoge Mouw.
An imposing sculpture in a clearing in the woods
The works is conceived as a faceted head, yet its shape also reminds of a dome. It is made up of 2115 welded 6 mm-thick metal triangles. In a number of spots, pieces have been left out, making it possible to enter the hollow space of the sculpture on one side. The colossus measures 6 x 5 x 3 meters (l, w, h) and weighs about 2 tons. Despite its size, the sculpture does not reveal itself straight away. From the forest, the visitor enters the open, sunken spot where the monumental head lies. The head, appearing as if it has just been uncovered while the rest of the body remains hidden under the surface, rises from the parabola dune like a vestige of ancient times. Its face has the classical features of goddesses found in Greek sculpture, and is also reminiscent of excavated fragments of ancient sculptures of gigantic dimensions.
The work is exemplary of Gijs Van Vaerenbergh’s characteristic play with meaning; whether in an art-historical respect, or as an allusion to the site-specific stories that are rooted in the extraordinary nature of the place. The placement of this new, uncanny element furthers the mythicalisation of this very particular landscape.
As such, A Giant Sculpture becomes part of the series of retroactive monuments, created by Gijs Van Vaerenbergh for historical sites as a means to express in a contemporary manner the latently present qualities of the place. This series also includes the works The Upside Dome (reinterpretation of an unfinished dome of the St. Michael's Church in Leuven), Arcade (a monument marking the historical connection between the village of Basel and the polder) and Gent 1913 (a retroactive monument to the 1913 World Exhibition in Ghent).