Choephore (press release 12 september 2019)


Following the celebration of Dordrecht 800 years in 2020, Dordrecht based artist Gerhard Lentink (Deventer, 1956) is presenting his proposal for the realization of an almost seventeen meter high statue at the point of the so-called ‘Stadswerven’ where the rivers Merwede and Wantij merge. In the Middle Ages there was a huge wooden statue of the city maiden at the entrance of the Wine Harbour, which was called ‘Hanneken van Dordt’. The statue was probably demolished in the early seventeenth century.

Lentink’s design involves a contemporary ‘reincarnation’ of the city maiden in the shape of a young woman who carefully holds a large bowl in balance and moves a step forward with her right foot to bring a libation to the river which made the flourishing of the town possible. Her name Choephore means: ‘libation bearer’, the name is derived from the second piece of the Orestes trilogy of Aeschylos (Choephoroi).

The sculpture is constructed as an open structure of steel corner profiles, where only the base and the bowl (diameter 4.44 m) are covered with wooden planks. The artist is looking for a “‘crane aesthetic’ that results in an ephemeral appearance, like a three-dimensional stained glass window without glass.” The artist placed the sculpture-base combination on a terrace, a so-called ‘city balcony’ that can be climbed at the rear via fifteen fan-shaped steps and that is also accessible for wheelchair users thanks to a ramp. The shape shows some resemblance to the forecastle of a ship. In the design (total height: almost 22 m), the dimensions are based on architectural elements in the immediate vicinity, such as the planned Prince Claus Bridge (33 m) and the Riedijkshaven apartment building (53 m).

The relationship between the nearby Prince Claus Bridge and the statue in particular was thoroughly investigated with six panoramic drawings. According to the artist, “both are powerful independent marks in the city profile, they are in close proximity to each other, in an inspired, complementary connection.”

For the realization, it is of course of crucial importance that the municipality of Dordrecht ‘embraces’ the content of the plan. Only when this has become clear further research can be carried out – after all, it is a project in the public space – whether there can be found broad support for this idea among citizens and the business community of the city.

Lentink is currently working on an almost three and a half meter high scale model of the statue. This model becomes the ‘vehicle’ in discussions with constructors and implementers and when drawing up a budget. In addition, it may play an important role in fund-raising campaigns. The aim is that the municipality will come to the basic decision in the year of jubilee 2020 regarding Lentink’s proposal. Financing can largely be provided by crowdfunding.

“It seems to me a fantastic idea that the city of Dordrecht would have a worthy contemporary successor to the lost statue of Hanneken van Dordt following its eight hundred year jubilee in 2020. As a new icon for an age-old city. It must be possible to raise this vision to reality within five years.” The artist said.


More information (in Dutch):
Interview RTV Rijnmond (3 October 2019)
Newsletter 12, september 2019 – pages 6-23