Monument for a Wullok, 2018
Every whelk (or, as it is pronounced in West Flanders, ‘wullok’) is a work of perfection. These shells grow in accordance with the rules of the Golden Section or the Fibonacci number series, which means that each part of the shell is in perfect proportion to every other part. Forged with the secret logic of the sea, there is in every whelk, regardless of size, a flawlessly balanced proportion between its beginning and endpoint.
In his work, the artist Stief DeSmet addresses the friction between nature and culture. For Beaufort, he set himself the task of depicting a whelk in accordance with its natural form. His study of the whelk fits into his fascination with nature as a superior ‘creator’ as compared to humans and artists.
This Monument for a Wullok is a monument to the sea, and ode to its power and indomitable nature, and to the secrets that it refuses to reveal. Fully realizing that he would fail in this endeavour, DeSmet returns the sculpture to the sea and allows the sand and salty sea air to conquer the bronze. The bronze thus acquires a brownish-green pockmarked surface which contrasts with the soft, smooth and accessible inner side, in which as children we thought we could hear the sound of the sea.
In an age when skyscrapers, nuclear reactors and barrage dams are symbols of the human effort to conquer the environment, this sculpture, with its visible seams and traces of the founding forces us to appropriate modesty before the sea and nature.
Stief DeSmet has recently had solo exhibitions at the NK Gallery, Antwerp (2016), the Cultuurcentrum De Garage, Mechelen (2015) and the C&H Artspace, Amsterdam, the Nederlands (2014). He participated in group exhibitions including the Biennial of painting, MuDeL, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens and Roger Raveelmuseum, Deurle (2018), Beauty of the Beast, Ursel Castle, Hingene (2017) and Triennial of sculpture, Jehay Castle, Liège (2016).
End of the western Strekdam, at the Zeeheldenplein, Oostende
- Tram stop: Oostende Station
- Cycling node: 45
- Walking node: 64