“We all carry around a mental compendium of things that inspire us. I’m inspired by the broken and discarded ceramic objects I find. They suggest situations, connections, compositions, which I then translate into sculptures.”
— Bouke de Vries
"The work looks at fractures in society and in the land - reflecting the fragmented aspects of my work."
— Bouke de Vries on Sculpture Network
Fragments of Memory installed at UCL © Richard Stonehouse
London-based Dutch artist Bouke de Vries collaborated with Factum Arte for the first time to create a public installation for the Japanese Garden of the Bloomsbury College. The piece was commissioned by UCL Public Art to commemorate the Chōshū Five, who were UCL's first Japanese students since the institution's foundation in 1826 as the first university in England to open its doors to applicants of any race or religion.
The concept of the sculpture evokes the shape of an Arita soy bottle vase, with parallel fractures running through its body: the fractured pieces recall the outline of the Japanese archipelago and are detached from the main surface by a discreet inner steel structure. The sculpture stands on a grey Kobe Stone plinth, supported by a bottom concrete plinth.
Capturing and translating the fragile feeling of ceramics (de Vries' usual artistic medium) to a bronze sculpture was the main challenge during the 3D modeling phase, carried out by Irene Gaumé and Voula Natsi, and of the finishing process after casting at Esfinge Foundry.
Renders of the final 3D model © Factum Arte
The bronze was patinated in a complex custom-made patina, creating a smooth and semi-opaque finish resembling white porcelain glaze. The edges of the fractured shape were instead mirror-polished and varnished, in a visual tribute to the Japanese art of kintsugi, the repairing of broken ceramics using gold lacquer. According to the de Vries, 'this tradition venerates old and broken pots, celebrating the traumatic damage as an integral part of the object’s history: a healing through beauty'.
Detail of the inner structure supporting the piece and the detached shapes © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte
The sculpture at Fademesa Foundry before the finishing process © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte
Detail of the white patina © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte
Details of the mirror polish on the edges and the semi-opaque patina © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte