Noord-Hollands Dagblad of Saturday, October 2

Cutting 160,000 woodblocks for The Night Watch

 

It will be the work of a monk. Jakko Woudenberg is recreating The Night Watch in wood. 160,000 blocks, one centimeter by one centimeter.

 

Warmenhuizen 

Has he gone mad? Those around him want to know when he tells them about his plan. Sell everything? Shut down his business? To recreate The Night Watch in wood? No, says Jakko Woudenberg: he has not gone mad. He is making his dream come true, to make The Night Watch entirely from wooden blocks. At full size, almost sixteen square meters. He kept his word: over the next three years he will cut ’pixels’ out of wood. Each one a centimeter by a centimeter. 160,000 cubes in total.

 

Separated

We spoke to him in the former storefront he rents on the Fabrieksstraat in Warmenhuizen.

This is where it all will happen. Working downstairs, living upstairs. With his three children, whom he co-parents. After his divorce four years ago came a defining moment. ’’I fell down hard for a while, started thinking about myself. What do I really want?’

 

Creativity

“I came to the conclusion that I had done far too little with my creativity. At school I scored high on the creative subjects, but after that I didn’t really do anything with it anymore.’’ Sure enough: he became a master parquet installer and has laid beautiful parquet floors. The floor in which he imitates a tree’s annual rings has become world famous. “That was an insane project. But still: I should have tapped into my creative side sooner.’’ It is still possible, he concludes. This Night Watch in wood project will happen. “I remember when I was an apprentice and laid a floor somewhere, I was about twenty-two. Then I thought: could you make The Night Watch in wood? Even then. And now I’m going to do it.” He recounts it while standing on a pixelated image of The Night Watch. Only when you look closely at that huge plate do you realize the job that Jakko faces. So many miniscule blocks. And they all have to be sawn… It will be a voyage of discovery, he says. Take the colours. The Night Watch has a dark, almost black, background. And many shades of brown. That colour parquet can be found. But the other colours? ,”Some things will go. You have red wood, you have purple wood. There is blue wood. But then you have to go to Cuba or Jamaica. How am I going to get hold of that? I have no idea yet.”

 

Impregnation

“Green wood doesn’t exist. You can impregnate it, though, so that it turns green. But how am I going to do that? I have no idea. It will work eventually. I like all the unknown. That makes me wag my tail.’’ The Night Watch is divided into four hundred smaller panels of twenty by twenty centimeters. Only then can you move it. “My goal is for it to travel the world once it’s finished. People everywhere should be able to enjoy it.” Point the phone’s camera at that pixelated image on the floor, he says. “Look what happens then: all those little cubes disappear. The camera doesn’t recognize those pixels. It will be the same later with the real thing. It will be placed on the ground, people will be able to stand on it. It will be ’functional art’. And then when they take a picture, they see that effect.” He wants to bring his audience into the project from the very first moment. For example, by creating podcasts and so on. “Because this is also a search for myself. I’ve always lived inside out. Running, gassing. Always going on and on. ’When I’m there, I’m happy’. I think a lot of people recognize that. You know: everything gives pressure. Parents, school, social media. At a certain moment you have to say: now I’m going to do what I feel like doing. I want to inspire people in that. Follow your intuition more often. That’s what I want to share with others.” And if people still say after reading this story: this guy is crazy? “Haha. Then I say: that’s right.” But he’s going to do it anyway, there will be a Night Watch.

 

Sponsorship

And then the real Dutch question arises: how is he going to pay for it? Jakko has sponsors who ensure that he can sustain himself financially for three years. His main sponsor is the Swedish company Bona, which sells all kinds of parquet products. Parketfabriek Lieverdink sponsors the material, given that the project is beneficial to the industry. It shows that you can be very creative with wood. Follow the progress at dutchwoodartist.com

 

Editor: Marten Visser

Photography: Marc Moussault
 

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This article is a translation from a Dutch newspaper dated Saturday, September 2, 2021

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