Long lines of oak trunks mark the south-western beaches of the Netherlands. Since the Middle Ages they have born witness to a continuous history of trial and error in man’s struggle to defend his land from erosion. This spectacular site is now officially protected as cultural heritage.
Rediscovering the wooden breakwaters I had known since childhood, I began by drawing and photographing them and ended up exploring a culture defined by its relationship with the sea. With a wealth of historical and scientific documents from private and public collections as well as 200 pages of my own photographs, A Resistible Force, published in 2007 by Visual Legacy, tells a personal story of discovery.
Size: 199 x 256 mm, 288 pages, hardcover
ISBN 978-90-811850-1-1 Donkere Palissaden,
ISBN 978-90-811850-4-2 English edition
ISBN 978-90-811850-2-8 Dutch special edition
ISBN 978-90-811850-3-5 English special edition
Many painters have set up their easels on these dunes, where the sand still holds the warmth of the day. Piet Mondrian, for example, spent several summers here with other artist friends, and there is no doubt that the sketches and paintings of beach and breakwaters in his Ocean series represent the same view that I am looking at now. Apart from the great pleasure of being involved with a beautiful subject of visual inspiration and meeting extraordinary people, my temporary microcosm has given me the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of time. Piles that looked centuries old turned out to have been replaced every fifty years. At the same time I was looking at a system of coastal defence that contained the entire history of Walcheren and in a certain sense of the Netherlands. I began to understand the courage of those who are willing to question orthodox ideas, including their own. We should never forget that practical solutions are always temporary, and that research and experiment must go on. My wanderings on the beaches of Walcheren have made me understand how small we are and at the same time how the effect of our actions can be immense, and humility – survival even – lies in constantly reviewing the balance between man and nature.