by Nanda Alstede
there would have been something like a Gerdy Oskam-fanclub,
I absolutely would have become a member! Gerdy is my favourite ‘cat’- artist
and I was thrilled having been in a position to interview
her. For years one of her works of art, called ‘Explorer
of the World’, decorates our room – a showpiece which we cherish!
lives in a cosy, narrow little street in Alphen aan den
Rijn and when I enter her house I find myself in a Land
of Cockaigne! Everywhere beautiful figurines which I would like to have
I only ‘know’ Gerdy from telephone conversations, but I know everything about Franz Joseph, a helpless, motherless moggy-kitten of about 5 weeks, which she found in Germany – where she owes a farmhouse – and took home with her. He grew up with her and became a big red tom-cat. The first thing she tells me is that Franz Joseph died… only 1 ½ years old. I promise her not to write too much about it, as her grief over the death of ‘Big Red’, as she used to call him, is still very fresh and it hurts too much. Luckily there still is Zilla, a very affectionate and present seal tabby point Siamese with beautiful blue eyes, which regularly wants to take part in the conversation; and …. within a few weeks, Zilla will get a friend – a Siamese male kitten will make things complete again.
Gerdy, claiming that she is a disaster as a housewife, serves us a cup of coffee and we take a seat on her couch in her nice, light room which also is her exposition and working room. I cannot keep my eyes off of all those beautiful figurines; even the ones which are not finished yet, I would like to take home!
Oskam (58) was born in Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel; her Zodiac sign is Aries.
She is a sculptress and studied art of modelling
and sculpture techniques at the Vrije Academie, The
Hague. About three times a year she exposes her bronze sculptures and her wall
panels at home and abroad. Besides that she also works on
is divorced and has two children, a son and a daughter. She always managed to
live of her art, because, as she says ‘I’m not capable
of doing anything else!’. She did teaching for
decades, which took place in her own studios. Since one year she doesn’t
own these studios anymore and she quitted teaching at
the same time, which she thinks to be extremely pleasant. Teaching is a nice but
very intensive and tiring occupation and she likes it being able to work in her
garden or simply sit in it and enjoy the sun.
her studio is in her house
and she wants to organize a permanent exposition
and sales room. In October she will open
up for the public on Sundays and up till then many things have to be done
as during the summer she lives in her house in Germany.
Not that she doesn’t do anything over there! On the contrary: in this house,
situated in the area of the Moselle, she gives
workshops sculpture techniques and modelling to groups of about eight people.
Beginning and advanced pupils can take part. A workshop
lasts five days in during this period one can learn how
to make a personal sculpture out of stone, modelling wax or chamotte clay.
You may choose your own stone and you can work in your own tempo. You stay at
the 250 years old farmhouse which is situated
amidst woods, fields and hills. When the weather is beautiful the work takes
place outside and when it rains it is done in a large
studio, formerly a stable. It all sounds great to me! I will keep this in
mind…. Imagine that some day I would be able to make my
own cat sculpture! May be I have undiscovered talents….
‘making of’ bronze sculptures is a very
complicated process and Gerdy explains to me how this takes place:
are various ways to produce a bronze
sculpture – she describes one of them, called ‘cire-perdue’,
which – literally translated – means ‘casting with a lost mould’ –
this is a well-known technical term. Cire-perdue
can always only be used once. If one wants to make more pieces, one has to use
cire-perdue-procedure takes place as follows (the
words, indicating the successive steps, are underlined):
of the statue in modelling wax
2) Placing of a cast tap and ventilation channels on the wax mould
Followed by so called ‘forming-in’,
e.g. making a thick pulp from gypsum, gravel and water.
The wax model is splashed
with this pulp in order to fill
up all the hollow parts as well. This forming of a contra-mould
has to be done quickly because the pulp will harden soon.
Next comes the so called ‘burning
The wax melts in the furnace and is caught in a big reservoir. The
moulding pulp is slightly being baked at 750° .
down’ takes place. The
baked, hollow moulds are now placed, at a temperature of 100°, in big hobs with
so called Brussels earth (a sandy composition) with the ventilation channels up.
This composition supports the mould in order to avoid the danger of
breaking as much as possible while moulding in the bronze.
down. This goes very
The moulding material is chopped
The bronze now is ‘free’
and a new piece of art is born!
tap and ventilation channels are removed
with a saw
skin is removed with jets of water
12) Then follows ‘cicelating’ which is taking away moulding-faults. For this several kinds of tools are used, such as hammers, chisels, files, grinding tools and finally emery-paper.
the skin of the bronze is provided with colour
by means of acids. This is a kind of quickened oxidation process
with which the underlying metal is protected from influences from the outside.
The arisen dust-layer is removed and the work can
eventually be waxed.
piece of art is placed: a
hole is bored and a screw-thread turned, after which the work is placed on a
from making bronze sculptures, Gerdy also paints
and specializes in matter-panels. These are panels
in relief and she uses all kinds of materials which she finds in nature.
Various kinds of these panels decorate her walls and they look very special –
they trigger your own fantasy. She works most of the time in series,
because, as she says, she cannot put enough of her
feelings in one single painting. The panels in her studio consist of
series of four.
the moment you can see her work at Galerie Alexandra,
Zierikzee and every Sunday at her studio, Alphen
a/d Rijn, The Netherlands.
flies with such a fascinating interlocutress like Gerdy…. We quickly
admire her beautiful garden and once
again I gape in admiration at the wonderful sculptures.
is Gerdy Oskam? An inspired artist with an amiable personality, or, as
she puts it in words herself: ‘A happy human being who
loves her work’.
Gerdy and her partner moved to Germany where she gives her workshops, has accommodation for Bed & Breakfast and has a farmhouse for rent. Her address is:
Ringstrasse 14 - 56290 Lieg - Germany
0049 2672 913466
© Nanda Alstede - 2002