Jericholaan, Oudedijk, 's Gravenweg. 's Gravenweg, Oudedijk, Jericholaan. This was my route from home to elementary school and back for years. A child goes to school about two hundred days a year; times six years makes twelve hundred times there, twelve hundred times back.
I remember the old woman from the Pniël nursing home, always alone, in a chair by the window. One day we waved to each other, an agreement we kept for years, maybe a thousand days.
I also remember the man who walked barefoot on the tram rails. The rails that both lines 7 and 9 ran over at the time, and over which a dark man with long dreadlocks strode step by step on summer days. Like a tightrope walker, and maybe his life was a balancing act. To me as a child it was enchanting: a man walking barefoot on an endless cord of steel in the midst of all the traffic and all the haste. Back and forth on the Oudedijk.
It didn't get any closer to art in Kralingen. Jericholaan, Oudedijk, 's Gravenweg. 's Gravenweg, Oudedijk, Jericholaan. There was not a single work of art on the route of my youth. There is a church, a memorial stone, and an oil globe stall in the winter.
Nowadays I cycle a different road, a route that leads to the center, where I have appointments, drink espresso and write books. On this route I encounter several works of art: Lof der Zotheid, a donkey monument from Geert van de Camp, Taxat from Woody van Amen and The River by Lon Pennock. It is especially this last image that continues to impress. Every time I cycle past it, I turn my head to the left and look at the two gigantic golden columns (that were once black). I can't imagine my way into town without Lon Pennock's columns. They are like a gate to me. Rotterdam starts here.
Now there is finally a work of art in Kralingen, a huge sliding window on the Voorschoterlaan. Anyone who cycles on the Oudedijk cannot miss the work. SASH by sculptor Ron van der Ende is seventeen meters high and rises 21,5 meters above street level. Half a meter less high than the columns of Lon Pennock, from whom Ron van der Ende still had lessons at the academy.
Like a gate, a window is an opening and offers a view through, a view. After the golden columns, the city begins. The wooden window is transparent, very clear; you can see everything in it. The richer the fantasy, the more you see. I think of the school children who will cycle past it, as I cycled thousands of times on the Oudedijk in my boyhood. The old woman is no longer there, and the barefoot man has also disappeared, perhaps fallen from the rope. Now kids see a magical wooden window amid all the traffic and rush. What would they think? Where do their thoughts take them? Could they see the fairy forest that can be smelled on rainy days?
Seven poplars from the Kralingse Bos have been dug up for art. A total of four kilometers of plank has been incorporated into the giant window. You may find that pathetic, but the trees were sick or unstable and were on the cornice. Know that one of the trees stood next to the paddling pool at the Kralingse Plas, and that on a windless day a branch broke off and landed on a bather.
Without Ron van der Ende, the poplars would have ended up in the shredder and would have turned into wood chips for a forest path or a petting zoo. Now they are a monumental work of art in the public space. A window slid open.
This is where the imagination begins.