News - May 24, 2012

The Sower

Slowly but surely the Wageningen campus is taking shape. Building after building is rising out of the ground on the large flat terrain on the city's north side.

Now it is the turn of Orion, its companions Lumen, Gaia and Atlas, among others, having already appeared. As these names suggest, modesty is not the first word that springs to mind when you consider this enormous building project. Colossal was also the word on my lips when I first entered Forum. Colossal with overtones of bombastic. I know nothing of the motives of the architect but the foyer of this temple of learning always reminds me of the megalomaniac structures of the Stalinist Eastern Bloc. The barricade-like stone object in front of the entrance, intended to create the impression of a tree but seemingly plucked straight from Tolkien's Mordor reinforces the sense of ‘pride comes before a fall'.
But things can be done so differently, as the beautiful and optimistic sculpture of The Sower (De Zaaier) makes evident. Situated at the start of the long rising walkway (who conceived this?) to Atlas, the sculpture was created by the famous Dutch sculptor August Falise. His work includes the statue of Hieronymus Bosch in the Market Square in 's-Hertogenbosch and that of Thomas Aquinas in Nijmegen. The Sower was unveiled in 1926 and seems now, after a couple of changes of address, to have reached its final destination.
The sculpture is full of movement. Over his left shoulder, the man carries a seed pouch from which he has just taken a handful with his right hand. What will he sow? I, for one, hope it is a great deal of greenery and flowers, to contrast with all that stone and concrete.