Three flying buttresses finished- a retrospect

flying buttresses with the apostles and musiciansMy colleague Jelle Steendam recently forwarded a number of photos. In the meantime we'd already completed quite a number of flying buttress figurines as well again, and usually we would be going to St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands) again to match up the carved pieces on site for a good connection. That work is also called according however, but as this time Stide and Jelle had carved the top two flying buttress statues, they were the ones who needed to adjust the flying buttresses to the church. We had already left some leeway because we knew it wasn't going to fit perfectly, but this time it was quite a lot of work. Yet Jelle still managed to find time to take some nice pictures.

Seven sins

flying buttress with the seven sinsThe sculptures of The Seven Sins in the park. But there was not much to be adjusted, so I didn't need to drop by for this. That's why I was happy with Jelle's photos of these flying buttresses, so I can finally see how they look. It's become a very lively, and expressive set! From bottom to top we can see Lust (copy carved by Stide), Avarice (copy by Jelle), the Anger (copy carved by me), Vanity (Jelle), Envy (Stide), Gluttony (Jelle) and Idleness (Koen). They are sitting nicely and varied on the arch and each one has its own attribute, such as the toads at Lust's chest, the money pouch of Avarice, the Knife of Anger, the mirror of Vanity, the snake at the ear of the gossiping Envy and the workhorse of the lazy Idleness.

Six Apostles

flying buttress with the ApostlesThe six Apostles also each had their own attribute: from bottom to top we can see St. Peter with the key (copy by Stide), St. Andrew with St. Andrew's cross (copied by me), St. Paul with a sword (Jelle), St. Thomas with staff and set square (Jelle), St. James the Lesser with a club (Koen) and St. James the Greater with sword and scallop (Koen). At the top, the Divine Lamb holds the cross (copy made by Jelle). You can read more about the theme of these flying buttresses in this blog article↑.

Six musicians

adjusting the fit of the sculpture of Lamb of God from the arch with the apostlesThe last arch visited this day, was the group of musicians from arch no. 16.

From bottom to top we can see the trumpet player (Stide), the flutist (Koen), the lute player (Jelle), the woman with the lyre (Jelle), the violinist (Jelle), the man with the accordion (Koen) and the man listening, with his hand to his ear. Stide had carved this last statue and so he was the one to adjust the connection to the church itself. Read more about these flying buttresses under this link↑.

It should be all over the newspapers

newspaper article in TrouwIn the same period an article appeared in a daily newspaper Trouw about this restoration (click on the image to read it online). The article points out how more and more ecclesiastical buildings are losing their religious function in this day and age and that ever more often a suitable destination needs to be found for them. That also makes it difficult to find sponsors for a very expensive restoration. People no longer have an affinity with the old position and power of the church in society.

Yet people often do still feel connected to the iconic buildings themselves. And the sculptures on them then become the ambassadors of the building. The playful flying buttress sculptures by Van Kuilenburg in particular are the elements that touch the visitors and invite them to get acquainted. In this way, we still have an important function for the city, as sculptors!

Not all the money goes to the sculptors….

Now it appears in the newspaper article as if this restoration costs 32 million euros because there are so many sculptures on the church. That the sculptors use up the lion's share of this restoration. I have to disappoint you, unfortunately that is not the case. There are 96 flying buttress figurines as well. Make it easy for math and say there are 100 figurines, and add another 100 for the tower. 200 in total. If we would use up say 20 million out of the total restoration sum, that would be 100.000 euros per sculpture? You'll understand that this is not true. That would be very easy money for a few weeks of work.

No, we only use up a fraction of this amount. There are still many other items that are much more expensive, such as windows, roof, floor, and scaffolding. Fortunately, the sculptures are the most prominent part of the church, so in that aspect, we are certainly worth millions.

Update 29-8-2020 : added some finishing touches

Last Tuesday, Jelle and I went back for a day to do some extra accordion work on the underlying profiles. That also gave me the opportunity to take another series of photos of these three arches myself. I added them to the gallery.


on to the next flying buttress figurine→ is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well:

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