Surrender, a symbolic moment
My father, Jan van Velzen, had made this sculpture in 2011 when he, was nearly 80 years old. It represents a young woman releasing a butterfly, rising into the air. It depicts the release of a soul on its onward path to the light. At the time, he provided the following explanation about this sculpture:
The thought 'Surrender’ sculpted, represents the inner attitude of surrender to God's plan for us.
The feminine aspect is present in every person as tender beauty, the kneeling posture as dedication to the Creator of all.
The butterfly is a more often used symbol of the Soul, and signifies Transformation.
As surrender is greater than letting go, so true beauty often is fragile silence.
Jan van Velzen, 22 February 2011, Onderdijk
In the right place
Actually, there was a whole process before this sculpture ended up here. My father actually intended this as a figurine for the children's graves in this cemetery, but that fell through. After his death, I made a proposal to my mother and brothers and sisters for a funerary monument, but we couldn't figure that out at first, as tastes differ, after all. Then the idea arose to place this statue on his grave, but we soon came to the conclusion that such a grave did not suit his modest nature. It would however be a good idea to donate it to the parish, and that was what happened.
I ordered a column of Anröchter Grünstein (dolomite) for this figurine. My mother felt it had to be placed high up in order to enhance its movement, and I can only say that she was right. I spent half a day doing all the preparations: sanding, drilling holes, removing its old base, drilling and tapping holes in the bronze, gluing pins, making a drilling template, collecting stuff and more. The pedestal stands on two thick stainless steel pins and the statue is also anchored in that way.
To polish or not to polish, that is the question?
This dolomite, or rather Anröchter Grünstein, is quite greyish at first when you sand or polish it. But the longer it sits outside, the more it turns into a beautiful light greenish tint. You can polish it of course, as you can see from my sculpture 'Ferns’, but in this case I just sanded it down to grain 200, so that the soft structure comes into its own, and not predominates over the sculpture itself with a sleek dark green shine.
Quite a weight
This plinth weighs approximately 250 kilos, but with a little skill and the right equipment you can move it around just like the ancient Egyptians did. Leverage and rollers. Fortunately I had help from the Stroet brothers who also took a flat cart with them, so within half an hour it was all up and done.
The sculpture sits in the center of a green lawn, which itself is also more than a meter above the surroundings. The field is intended as an extra space for any graves. With the plinth of 1 metres 60 in addition, the statue protrudes high above its surroundings and thus the column strengthens the intention of the sculpture and the movement of the woman: releasing the butterfly, the soul that continues on its new voyage of discovery. The sculpture therefore contrasts well with the sky and the dike behind it.
It was also a special moment for me, because a lot of things came together that day. The statue of my father has such a strong symbolic function for the soul journey and it was almost All Souls' Day and All Saints' Day. It also felt strongly as if the sculpture had been made for that place and the day was perfect: nice weather, not subdued and still, but something of a joyous realization that it is not over after this, just the next step in our journey. Surrender doesn't have to be tough! It's great how everything can come together.
More about his life
A while ago I shared a first article about my father's life. I could write five more, I noticed later. But actually that doesn't fit in with the blog and there is so much material that it would become an ever bigger project. That is why we are now in the process of working out and printing his memoirs, in which we hope to include a lot of photos of himself and his work. On this blog I will dedicate one more article to what I learned from him as a sculptor. Meanwhile, I have also started working on his tombstone, because we finally agreed on what it should look like. More on that later.
Below you will find a photo series of the installing of the pedestal and the sculpture 'Surrender'. My mother really didn't want to be in the picture, but as she was doing the donation, she has earned that place as far as I'm concerned. Thanks to Gerda Schutte for most of the photos.