And the word was made steel

September 8, 2017

How many tributaries of the social media delta can one follow at a time? March 2017 saw me sinking into the quicksands of Instagram, meaning of course that my WordPress blog was ignored completely. Time for an update, though many of you have followed these projects on the tiny screen. The chapel in Heestert was completed on 7 June and will be officially opened in a few days. I want to thank Thierry De Schrooder once again for his incredible work on this project. It would never even occur to me to design such a thing if I did not know he was there to build it. Seventy panels of laser-cut Corten steel had to be made to fit perfectly together on a building more than 27 meters long and 14 meters high. I can tell you that it was a wonder to watch Thierry’s calm precision as each panel was lifted into place. Nowhere is there a gap of more than 5mm. Imagine that on such a scale!

The text, which I composed, is a mantra-like repetition of phrases about caring for one another. It is not easy to read, which bothers older viewers and pleases younger ones. I find this fascinating. For many Westerners calligraphy is simply a part of writing in general, meant to communicate language. It takes a younger, fresher eye perhaps to see that writing can also be form, design, metaphor and emotional expression. Imagine highly legible letters here – it would be a disaster. You would read, but you would not look. We must learn to follow our friends in the Islamic and Chinese worlds, who long ago appreciated the beauty of writing as an art form where language and form remain in dynamic interaction.

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