In your works of art you work with found objects and materials from all over the world. According to a newspaper report, they have already used sand from 169 countries in their pictures. How did this passion start?
As a child, I spent a lot of time in nature. Leaves, water, stones or small finds … have always been something magical for me. The sea and the sand were my constant companions in the years that followed. In my first exhibition in 2003 I chose the theme “Sea and more”. I found the idea of throwing real sand from my vacation onto the fresh paint where the beach was painted, very exciting. The beach therefore had something very lively and reminded me of my last vacation.
How important is travel to your art and inspiration? Are travel and wanderlust also subjects of your pictures?
Yes, traveling for me includes “being on the move”, like the Rhine, the river where I was born. For me, making new people or discovering involves an adventurous tension. In these trips I always find special materials such as stone dust from an old Parlazzo in Venice from the 13th century or lava sand from Italy. I find them, collect them, and they inspire me when I start a blank canvas. And, I love the subject of “time”. In my pictures you will find small pieces of old clocks almost everywhere in them. The time seems precious to me, especially to fill it with important people, wonderful countries or new discoveries. I found out through family research that my grandfathers also loved traveling.
“The materials of the earth are colorful”
Can you tell the difference between sand from the Caribbean and sand from the Mediterranean? Is there a country with – from an artistic point of view – particularly interesting earth, or interesting sand or stones?
I created a picture with the title “Sand of this Earth”. I spread the map of the world with texture flour. Then I let 69 types of sand “trickle” into the land where it belongs. Before I poured pigment water in white over it, my card was colored! There is red, black, gray, brown or almost white sand. It is the small particles of granite, brick, coral or shells in the sand types that make this sand unique. The sea has crushed all the materials at the site and made sand out of them. Even within a country there are different colors, grains or additional materials. This also applies to the earth. Rolandseck is a former volcanic crater. The earth is very dark. In Gran Canaria you can see at least 5 different colors of earth: deep red, clay red, almost black, brown, curry-colored.
Where did your last trip lead you and what did you take with you?
My last trip was a trip to different regions of Italy. My favorite place remains Venice and there a craftsman gave me an old brick from a palace that was being renovated. In the research it was a house from the 13th century. One finds rust finds, one does not look for them. I always have a few small bags with me and when I find something I wrap it up and label it. I was with my daughter in the Arena di Verona, where I was able to take a piece of stone from the old wall with me.
Do you already have an idea how to process the found objects in a picture?
Not always. When I find and collect it, the material that I find appeals to me at that moment. When I start with a picture, a specific topic or memory is often the beginning. Then I fetch the “box” with the collected item from this special place. For example, in Faro near Ilha Diserta I met an old fisherman who is the only one living on the island. 3 small fishermen’s houses make up his entire house. I spent a whole day there with my daughter, he cooked for us and talked about his life. I carried the small souvenirs home and in memory of this extraordinary fisherman with his 3 houses I structured the canvas with 3 square papers and in blue. This is exactly where the finds belonged and made sense and the right place for me.
The finds are archived with me and are waiting to be determined. When I immerse myself in a picture, I combine my passion for Venice with the old plaster stone dust or brick dust in a filler. But a rust bar from Grado also fits in and when I incorporate a piece of poetry from my grandfather I suddenly find the old leather strap from my grandfather’s ancient suitcase exciting. Often, materials come together in a picture that I have not planned beforehand, but rather put into it intuitively and passionately. You can compare it to the art of cooking. The ingredients of a great sauce are often not the same but experimentally passionate.
Stones were exciting for me as a child. Pebbles that are collected like hand flatterers and disappear into the jacket pocket were always there. During a painting course on the Wildkogel in Austria at an altitude of 2500 meters, I watched the stone cutters and spontaneously booked a course in the same year. Carving my first stone was difficult at first because I didn’t know what to shape. The sculptor told me to trust my feelings and use a chisel and hammer to knock away what I think had to go. Then an exciting day began, on which I hardly spoke but chopped off this stone for hours. At the end of the course, I noticed that I structure my pictures. Sculpture is just the opposite. Here I tend to mine the material. But in the end the water connects them both. The final touches are when sculpting underwater and pigmented water flows over my canvases. But to get closer to the material stone and to work a stone from all sides was incredibly exciting.
In the end I collected my stone dust and thought… .this comes full circle. What I cut down there, I can collect and build on a picture again. I knew then that sculpting was also part of my art.
“For me, traveling includes being on the move”
What kind of tips would you give newcomers to sculpture?
Everyone in my class did something different. I think above all you should trust your feelings. No matter what you want to do, you should try that. If you love the representational, working on structure, form and proportion is just as important as it is with the abstract artist who relies on his feelings or his imagination. One should also try different types of stones. Some very hard stones such as marble are knocked off with other tools and very soft, almost soapy stones such as soapstone offer easy access.
Do you already have an idea where your next trip is going?
Yes. Every year for my birthday in January I try to celebrate it in Venice. I don’t need big parties or celebrations, I just love the color of the sky in Venice in January, the water buses “vaporettis” and the Italian food. This ancient city has stood still in time and has to be rediscovered for me again and again. You can find many places without many tourists and you can fully indulge yourself in the magic and magic of this exceptional city … and of course, as always, I have small bags in my handbag.