A stone-tree for the group home
Today in Amersfoort, a new group home for people with a mild intellectual disability was inaugurated. I've lately been involved (pro deo) in a number of things in the new home, including the stone-tree and the boulder in the garden. Read here↑ an earlier post about the boulder.
The stone-tree was a special project for me, because it led me to undertake several things that I do not normally do. It's a long story, so let's start at the beginning!
The mad squire in 1661
Each Amersfoort resident knows the story of the mad squire and the Amersfoort boulder. Or, at least, he/she should know it. In short it goes like this: Squire Everard Meyster makes a walk on the Leusden moors with his study pals, and comes upon a huge boulder, sticking out of the ground. After some speculation about the origin of the boulder the squire is willing to bet that the boulder would be easy to move. He gets 400 Amersfoorters crazy enough that they willingly, and for promises of lots of beer and pretzels start to move the boulder of 7 tons and hoist it on a cart, and under loud cheering bring it into the city. A man lost his legs in the excitement, but that couldn't spoil the fun.
Then the stone was set on display at the Pig's Market. Later, the squire writes a mocking rhyme about the gullible Amersfoorters, and the boulder was buried out of shame. Only in 1903 the boulder was dug up again. Today, the boulder is still visible at the beginning of the Arnhem street. A stone's throw from the group home.
Real Amersfoort boulders
Amersfoorters have been nicknamed Boulder pullers ever since that day’ and the city is also called Boulder Town. So what was a more appropriate name for the future residents than The Boulder Club?
At one of the meetings of the Club every resident has painted their own stone. And these remained lying around in a basket somewhere in the house. A pity though, thought the central committee, and after some discussion an idea came up for a work of art, a tree with these stones as leaves. Boulder and Oak.
Whoever thought up what, I don't know anymore, but in the practical part, it ultimately came down to a collaboration between me and painter Sandra Nanning, who has made a lot of murals, and from trees as well. Sandra was going to paint a large tree in the stairwell, and I would attach the stones to stainless steel tree leaves.
Making tree leaves
I bought a sheet of stainless steel and cut out the shape of the leaves. After that, I made a hole in the middle, and a fold over its length. I tapped the leaf halves around a thick tube to get the leaf effect, and welded an long M8 nut on the rear side. Into that, I welded a threaded wire piece, with which I can fix the leaf into the wall. It is a somewhat cumbersome construction, but now every leaf has a nut into wihich I can screw a stone.
-Click on a picture for the slide show-
Each stone had to be pierced. And there were hard ones among them! Limestones I can drill without the hammer function, but a piece of granite can't be drilled with a hammer drill. It would break in half. So many of these stones I needed to patiently pierce with a diamond bit. 32 in all, so I had enough on my hands there.
A huge tree in the stairwell
Sandra then went to work on the back wall of the stairwell. She painted one big tree, from the ground floor up to the second floor continuously. It also runs out into the two side walls, so it stands with an imposing presence. At the bottom are the names of the initiators of the project, plus the architect and the owners of the property who have put so much work in.
On the first floor is a poem about a tree that was good at letting go. And on the top two floors are the stones of the residents, criss-cross all over, each on their own stainless steel tree leaf.
Should it be necessary, they can be screwed out again, and there are still four spots left for future residents.
The Tree in the Wood
The tree in the wood
in autumn let everything loose
He let go of it all and as he stood
he whispered softly:
'Letting go is paramount
Placement of the boulder with the house numbers
A week earlier at the same address, I installed the boulder that I recently carved the house numbers in . The boulder was put in the front yard, right next to the entrance. I had transported the nearly 500 kg heavy boulder in the back of my white little van. I could lift it out with an engine hoist I'd brought along in a trailer. After that, it was only a matter of laying planks and planting it into the garden.
Boulder and Oak
This boulder was not the only thing that was planted; later that week a young oak tree (Quercus Robur) was also planted, in appreciation of the architect and the two developers. Because an oak can live for over 450 years here, we hope that both the group home and the oak will live a long and happy life.