Maarten Vanden Eynde

Scheeps Recht

Burned oakwood
300 x 300 x 300 cm
Courtesy Kunstruimte Wagemans

The transition from wood hull ships to metal hull ships in the late 19th century, marked the end of a peculiar old tradition to plant oak trees on a steep hill slope in order for them to grow in a certain curve towards the sun to maximise photosynthesis by making use of it’s energy. In combination with pruning, this was the way to ensure shipbuilding materials for future generations. This ancient craft relied on an unwritten pact with past generations as it took up to 150 years for an oak tree to be suitable for shipbuilding purposes. By the late 20th century, when reconstructing or restoring old ships became a national fashion there was hardly any curved wood available for shipbuilding, due to the fact that trees had not been planted and pruned for a long time. This resulted in artificial bending methods by using steam and fire to stretch and shrink wood grains, on both sides, in order to transform a straight beam into a curved beam. This wood ‘torture’ technique was applied for several days and nights on end to make Scheeps Recht, in homage to a lost tradition.