Opening Walk of Wonder at Radboud University & Radboud UMC (Nijmegen, NL)

18 april 2023

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Opening Walk of Wonder at Radboud University & Radboud UMC (Nijmegen, NL)

As NRC recently wrote in an article about the Stations of the Cross: “In life, suffering is inevitable; in art, too”. We created a walk along campus in Nijmegen to create space for reflection and contemplation through nature and art. It starts – or ends, depending on how you look at it – at Radboud University and runs to Radboud UMC.

Artist, writer and general practitioner Ignace Schretlen spends his life being incessantly inspired by the Stations of the Cross. He owned 600 informational pieces about the theology and philosophy behind this biblical agony, and when he donated his collection to Radboud, they decided something should be created upon Schretlen’s life’s work. During an interview with him we noticed tiny notes and countless artworks scattered all around his house, incidentally showcasing the life and mind of a man who cannot stop sharing his fascination for this subject. We realized it should be our mission to translate this into something meaningful that can be experienced by as many people as possible.

Themes that have existed for as long as humans have been around

We were interested by the different ways ‘agony’ presents itself in every life that walks this earth. Whether big or small, everyone eventually experiences some kind of setback in their life. It is what unites us all. Seven themes were derived from states of mind and feeling we go through after misfortune, such as hope, receive, carry, and recover. The seven themes are related to the three elements that are key for all people to feel human: a sense of community, agency and purpose. All of these themes are represented by an equal number of artworks throughout the route.

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From fascination to realization

We developed nine stations that provide information about the artworks, as well as access to a digital part, where podcasts give voice to the users of the campus and the themes. These stations are made of different visual layers, presenting 3D-like collages that tell a story. We worked with Arnhem-based designer Dana Dijkgraaf to develop these poetic images.

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And so, the Walk of Wonder came about: a contemporary take on the centuries-old themes that emerge from experiences of agony, setback or misfortune. Not only did we design the concept, we also assumed the role of curators, researching and selecting artists that connected themselves with the seven themes and created works of art that translate the themes in unique and modern ways. We are proud to work with these very inspiring artists on a living art route: Studio Toer, Birthe Leemeijer, Amara van der Elst, Mark Opfer & William Barret, Omer Polak, Sissel Marie Tonn and Ralph Zabel.

Visit the Walk of Wonder in Nijmegen!

Visitors who want to walk the route are welcome at any time of day. We recommend walking during daylight, as most of the artworks will be ‘off’ during nighttime. The route starts at Huize Heyendael and runs along different locations through campus.

On April 3, the route was opened by walking and experiencing it with all contributors. It was a beautiful day – we not only walked through nature, watching art, all the while enjoying some sunshine – we also enjoyed some insightful presentations by initiators and participating artists. During the opening, two art pieces were presented by spoken work artist Amara van der Elst and music and poetry artists Mark Opfer & William Barret. In the coming year the route will flourish slowly by adding the art pieces one by one. The artworks vary between installations, wall paintings and interactive works of art.

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