winter SUP expedition Maas 2024
winter SUP expedition Maas 2024
I was wondering if I could adapt to the rythm of nature in harsher winterconditions. La Meuse / de Maas carried me in 24 days of paddling from (close to) the source to the sea. She was my companion 900 km all the way through France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
My other essential companion was my new Sunova Expedition SUP. One, if not the most reliable board for such an expedition.
It takes a while before mind and body are fully adapted to the new reality. I had to deal with temperatures down to minus 10 degrees, frozen shoes and drinking water, cold feet without sense, short days, long nights, days without showering and batteries which were running down fast. Also I somehow had to try to eat enough to keep a realistic balance between losing a lot of energy and take some in to stay warm and be able to keep and enjoy paddling.
And it was a joy most of the time! The Maas gave me energy. In winter the landscape was silent. It was possible to see the wildlife even better as in summer. I saw beavers, muskrats, kingfishers and many other animals.
To keep on going, I had to embrace the unknown and the cold, and not care when stuff got wet or dirty. Then travelling seems to get simple after a while: reading the water, paddling, making the right decisions, eating, sleeping and howling my stuff around. It just got uncomfortable when I met human created obstacles such as barriers and gateways. Then I felt like a fish on the land, struggling.
I tend to be an optimist. Whilst travelling on the Maas I saw her as a living vein, providing live. I know that the drinking water we have at home is won by the same water. You have to be a fool not to recognize that by many people and industries along the way the Maas is seen or used more as a rubbish bag. As long as there is enough water you can keep saying that the water is pretty clean. But it is not.
I have seen and smelled a lot which made me worry about wat we leave for future generations. This stream of live is actually feeding the sea with big loads of plastic, oil and chemicals.
As humans we have to change our habits and shift what we see as normal. Living a live closer to nature is not easy, it means work, give up something else, listen and adapt.
I will make a film about this journey and love to share the story of the Maas with you. I am especially thankful for the help of my familiy and friends who support and understand my curiosity and need to explore. Special thanks to the river, Margot, Maarten and my family, the whole Sunova team and Norm Hann for creating such a beautiful and reliable board!
I was looking for a wild place.
Last April I left with two backpacks, packed with food for a month, some tools and clothes.
It was a challenge to reach the spot. I had never been there before and did not really know what to expect. The only thing I knew was that I would stay there. Stay there for one month, 28 days that would feel different than the ones before.
My aim was to connect with my surroundings and to observe. Observe the inhabitants of the wild place, the nature, the change of time and my own thoughts.
On my daily walks I avoided leaving traces in the sand of the river banks, so that I could come back the day after and discover the place as if I have never been there before. One month I did not create anything. I just observed, this was something I have never done before.
A cave became my home, the fire my best friend. The river broke the silence and brought fresh drinking water. Rare sunlight was feeding my soul. Dark nights changed everything, turning the eyes towards the inside and the universe at the same time.
I haven’t seen a single person in these 28 days… But I did feel connected with the water, the wind, the fire, the stones, the trees, the earth and the inhabitants of the wild place.
I am happy that they still exist, these wild places. Thank you for letting me be your guest.
Since then I have been working on a group of sculptures and a film about the wild place. The story will be told with wood, stones and bones, collected during the stay in the mountains.
film document about my Stand Up Paddle Board journey
Sempacher Woche 18. Februar 2021 / Surseer Woche 25. Februar 2021
km magazine 2020 / interview by Florence Husen / coverpicture by Auke Hamers
working on roots, artist in residence, sculpture park Kloster Schönthal, Switzerland 2019
film document / roots / sculpture park Kloster Schönthal
Atlas mountains Morocco 2018, bicycle trip Switzerland – Morocco
picture by: René
installing “I am the mountain”, Buisse Heide, Netherlands 2018
picture by: Ron Dirven
working on “I am the mountain”
“floating in space serie” @ Prospects & Concepts Mondriaan Fonds, ART Rotterdam, Netherlands 2018
thank you: Mondriaan Fonds, Stijn Huijts, Leony, Acrylic One
working on mugluk, Breda, Netherlands 2017
thank you: Remko
picture by: Remko
Alpenpässeweg, Switzerland 2017
thank you: Wouter & Margot
picture by: Wouter Zweers
working on memento Biesbosch, Netherlands 2014
thank you: Dirk, Margot, Frans
working on dead tree project, Oisterwijk , Netherlands 2014
picture by: Jonas Ott
bicycle trip, England / Scotland 2011
picture by: Margot Zweers