I am strolling down by the lakeside with my three-year-old. He stops and points. His tiny finger indicates what has caught his interest. For once it is not something that could be a dinosaur bone. A bicycle leans against a wall; it looks as though it has been ridden through a flour mill.
The bike is covered with dried mud and little mussel-like shells. Fascinating! To think…. Someone designed the bike. Someone built it. Someone bought it. Someone rode it. Someone threw it in the lake. And then someone, somehow, got it out of the lake and left it there to be discovered by a passer-by who was intrigued enough to photograph it (noting how the molluscs seem to be particularly attracted to the gear cogs.)
I can’t help thinking that Lake Bike merits a more dignified resting place. Maybe I’ll wrap the saddle, pedals and handle bars in leopard skin, attach a pink neon light or two and hang it upside down from the ceiling of a contemporary gallery? Well…. maybe!
The other day, before lockdown and the elections in the US, I read that a train in the Netherlands had broken through the protective barrier of an elevated track and come to rest neatly on the tail of one of two massive sculptured whales. Fortunately, nobody was injured. The sculptures are plastic and their creator, Maarten Struijs, is amazed the structure was strong enough to hold a train.
Wanting to get as far away from any more news, good or bad, I took my (almost) three year-old son for a walk down to Domaine de Penthes here in Geneva. We spied a strange construction. It intrigued us the more we looked at it.
It seemed like a mould to make a half whale. Indeed, there was a plaque saying this sculpture – installation by Christian Gonzenbach is entitled “Hval” (Whale). I love it. The inside of the “mould” is dark and shiney; it reminds me of the skin of a real whale.
Strangely, what I like most about Gonzenbach’s unusual work is that it’s outside – the part made of gently curving over-lapping wooden slats, reminds me of all those fabulous old whaler boats that would be rowed by ten men with another in the prow hefting the harpoon and a very long rope. My O my! Cap’n’ Ahab, how that life must have been tough. Hval! A delightful discovery on a dull Geneva day.
Home for a summer break. I head for the wonderful island of Bohus-Malmön with some of my oldest friends. We chat. We swim. We have a BBQ. We drink a few beers. We laugh a lot. Could it get better than this? Well, yes. It could and it does.
Day two finds us chilling on the rocky shoreline. A flattish pile of angular stones catches our eyes; maybe someone has built a sort of seaside cairn. We take a closer look. Holy moly! Check this out, guys! It’s a rocky crocky! It’s not just a pile of rocks arranged to vaguely resemble a massive reptile. The unknown person has spent quite some time and effort making this snapper and clearly has an eye for reptile anatomy. It really is quite crocodiley. I love the angular pebbles that have become those glinting predatorial eyes. I feel fascination for this work and admiration for its creator in equal measure.
The permanent population of Bohus-Malmön is around 250. Someone must know whose deft hand has pulled these rocks together. I drop a line in a Facebook group. Willy Ociansson tells me that there are some similar and much older dry stone sculptures on the far side of the island and shares some of his own photos (thank you, Willy!).
Another crocodile! This one has lichen on it. It must be older. It’s mouth is open.
A giant python with forked stick-tongue. It’s almost smiling. It looks like it has been here for years.
The real treasure though is – for want of a better term – a technically challenging Goldsworthy arch sitting right next to a mini green Stone Henge. There is something really exciting in discovering these stone sculptures. The atmosphere is mystical and mysterious. It’s a little bit spooky. I feel some pagan ritual is about to start up any time soon. I imagine this is what it must be like to discover some cave paintings.
Who did this? When? But most importantly, why? Is there anybody out there that knows?