This autumn has been particularly kind on us here in Poland – in fact, it has been an outstanding “Polish, golden autumn” as a popular saying puts it, with most of the days until now being sunny and incredibly warm – for this time of the year. For the past 3 years I remember it was rain and slob and fog and humidity and greyness all over, so we are really blessed with such a nice weather.
Yet, we had some days of chill and drizzle. And what is a better accessory that is associated with autumn than the umbrellas. This is why I chose this installation for the time, although the idea behind the work was not precisely that of bad weather.
Witte de With Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands invited an artist called Luke to make a temporary outdoor installation for them. They specifically requested an artwork that would create strong imagery and would visually connect the streets with the waterways. Visiting Rotterdam on a recky he generated around 15 ideas for new artworks which were presented to the curator at the end of the day. ‘Just Sometimes’ was the installation they selected.
Around 1000 umbrellas were installed over a 300m length of the canal for the pubic to enjoy during the 3 day festival. For this artwork the function of an umbrella has literally been turned upside-down, transformed by their reflection and their shear quantity in the water. From a distance it was hard to register what they were. Up close, the umbrellas could be seen floating like swans on the canal and occasionally one or two would be found trying to escape a few hundred meters down stream. Like a bunch of flowers presented as a gift, or fireworks on an autumn night, maybe ‘Just Sometimes’ it’s ok to create something that is simply beautiful that makes the public smile?
During the festival literally hundreds of the public took photos of the artwork on their mobile phones and cameras. Indeed, even the driver of the local tram was spotted making an impromptu stop and abandoning his passengers in order to get out his camera and take a quick snap.
But there is a very autumn-themed end to this story: as the artwork was removed the end of the festival all the umbrellas were handed out to passing pedestrians. Consequently on rainy days in Rotterdam, yellow and orange umbrellas can be spotted being carried by members of the public around the city, acting as a legacy and reminder of the artwork.