By Anita Hamilton
Thought I’d tell you about an event that took place recently. Mostly it was an art exhibition, but offered more than that. For this, I need to go back a bit further: One of the members of our choir is a woman called Rita, whose company I have always enjoyed. A couple of years ago Rita invited the choir to an exhibition of her husband’s work — he’d just finished a major project on their property. We went and were totally astounded by the number of “major projects” there were, all done in papier mâché (formulated so it can withstand being outside in all weather conditions).
Here is the goat house, on which one can walk up to the very top, where a papier mâché man is holding a papier mâché goat in the little hut:
Stephan looking out from on top:
Rita and Paul used to have chickens — they still do, though these no longer need feeding:
They have a huge barn totally full of figures in many and various scenes. This is just one of twenty or more shots I could send:
Around the property are several other major projects from over the years, again, too many to go into — I’ll just show one more — a spaceship:
Paul’s latest project has been to build a Trojan horse, 7 metres high and 10 metres long. I volunteered to help out a bit, mainly because I was curious to learn how one went about all this. This is what we saw in May, a wooden substructure for the horse:
This structure is then “padded” with styrofoam in order to build out areas, followed by two layers of wire mesh. The mesh is then twisted together to make everything tight and, finally, a few layers of papier mâché are smeared on top of that, and painted. The result:
One climbs a ladder to access the two storeys, the first one being low and the upper one under the roof, where one can look out over the beautiful landscape we have here in the Eifel.
In addition to the horse, Paul built a large panel on which he copied a painting (forgot by whom) of Greek philosophers:
Paul and Rita’s property is on a hill. It had to be excavated to make room for the horse and painting. All the timbers for the horse and the wall painting were cut from their own property. Paul gets totally involved in the story of each project — it gets lived out for the duration. Thus, this weekend’s event included many smaller events over the course of the two days: work by other artists in various media, music, lectures, performance pieces — all with a Greek theme. This all took place over the whole property, but mostly in the open-air theatre, which Paul also built, and is also cut into the hill, where one can enjoy the landscape along with the entertainment — that’s Paul in the toga:
Paul is 82 years old and works seven days a week at this, though I doubt he calls it work. Rita is just as involved, as she’s the organizer behind it all — and Paul gives her full credit. Two years ago, when Paul turned 80, a friend gave him a gift of a cartoon, taking place in 2034. In the cartoon, Paul is busy, involved in yet another project, and Rita is standing there telling him,“Slow down, Paul, you’re not 80 any more.” Here they are:
I’ve been so very fortunate to meet some pretty interesting, involved, creative people in my life, who live life to the fullest. These two are just the latest of a long list.