Creative artist and sculptor Ap Verheggen works at the intersection of technology and art – and finds his inspiration in the oddities of nature. He’s always on a quest to create life-changing solutions by asking uncommon questions. Like building a sun glacier in the middle of the desert. We asked him how he does what he does.
In your work you seem to be fascinated by aspects of nature. What things in nature inspire you the most?
I have travelled many years throughout the Arctic regions. It’s a world completely detached from our society. You can actually hear your own heartbeat and it’s great to become part of nature. As unpredictable and dynamic it is. You have to listen to ancient laws, that we almost seem to be forgotten.
What’s the most perfect thing nature ever created?
There is nothing more beautiful than diversity.
What would be your perfect hideout place if (hypothetically speaking) you would be a creature yourself?
A large hollow tree: always a good view and a perfect shelter.
How can we humans collaborate better with nature?
We have to understand that we can never control nature. Nature sets the rules and we simply have to follow. For human beings it seems impossible to do so and therefore we always get ourselves into trouble. It’s the same like the climate discussion. I believe that climate change means culture change. Our culture has to adapt to climate changes.
One of your ideas, the SunGlacier is a brave attempt to build a glacier in the dry desert. What’s the meaning behind the SunGlacier project?
Art Project SunGlacier symbolizes the dynamic link between climate and culture and represents innovation, creativity and indeed, the impossible. The artwork aims to help people to think the unthinkable and to believe in the unbelievable and realize the seemingly unrealistic. To literally shift boundaries. SunGlacier focuses attention on the current technology and its ability to offer solutions. Our belief is that we must move forward without wasting energy to ‘naming, blaming and shaming’ as so often seems to be the case in the current debate on climate change.
What’s the current status of SunGlacier?
We tested the systems in a climate controlled room together with the cooling experts of Cofely Refrigeration. We are confident that the project can be build. Now we are looking for potential sponsors that want to join us in our ‘voyage of discovery’.
Have you ever noticed people did not take your ideas serious?
Everybody in this world is an individual with an own mind, luckily! So, if people don’t take me serious that’s their own right. Next to these large art projects I am a sculptor. I could never make a sculpture that would please everyone. That’s impossible. So, I am used to having different views on my work.
What does that say about our thinking?
Being dynamic is key. Other ideas and input are essential for a project like this. Without the support of many different thoughts and insights it would be impossible to realize a project like this.
At FAQD we expose people who dare to ask different questions. It seems like you do that a lot in your work. How do you force yourself to think different, find unconventional solutions and ask uncommon questions?
As a sculptor I have plenty time to think about subjects that would normally never crossed my mind. As my brains are programmed in ‘work mode’ my thoughts make a journey of their own. I get the most inspiring ideas while I am working. So, it’s sort of an automatic pilot that leads me to new ideas. Besides this, I also have a great partner, Petra – and I’m surrounded by great friends who love a good discussion.
Tell us a bit about the next big (or small) thing you’re working on.
My new art project, a sculpting work, is called: ‘Urban Chameleons’. It’s about animals that are lost in evolution. They crawl on walls and are attached in such a way that they seem to be stuck against the vertical surface – I’ve just finished the first ones where animals have human characteristics and show friendly smiles. My next huge challenge is finding a suitable gallery that wants to organize an exhibition.
How did it come about? And how is the project proceeding?
I am always looking for innovative ideas in art. I noticed that there are not many sculptures that are designed to stick on a wall. It was a huge challenge to make them light in weight and easy to attach.
What advice do you have for young artists and entrepreneurs who are on the verge of creating meaningful concepts but can’t seem to find the platform for it?
It’s only a matter of believing in your projects and continue, continue, continue.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
As a sort of parallel Art Project to SunGlacier, I came up with the idea of another project: ‘Desert Cascades’. This project is still in concept phase. While we were exploring our borders by making ice in a hot and dry desert, we learned a lot about water. It’s like going to the moon and meanwhile learning a lot about earth. Probably both projects will be combined together at a certain point. My intuition tells me that ‘Desert Cascades’ is going to be promising.
Watch below the video about his SunGlacier project.