Sculpting the Calendar of the Soul

The Visual Arts Section. Rik ten Cate has created a bronze statue for each verse of Rudolf Steiner’s Calendar of the Soul. The 52 sculptures will be on display at the Goetheanum from February 23 to April 28, 2024.

“I have known the weekly verses for over 40 years,” says sculptor Rik ten Cate. During his training as a Waldorf teacher in the Netherlands, they spoke the current weekly verse from Rudolf Steiner’s Calendar of the Soul every day. These verses have stayed with him ever since. He still revisits them every day in German and Dutch. He said, “I am impressed by the fact that the sayings describe the state of the world in just a few lines and how I am connected to it as a soul.”

Five years ago, the sculptor woke up one morning with the idea of sculpting each weekly verse. How does a text, a thought, become a sculpture? To do this, Rik ten Cate read the verse as before. “I look within, remain silent, and wait. Now, it is grace whether something happens. If it does, it could be music. Or an image, a color, a movement. Or a mood, a gesture. With this impression, I go into the studio, take sculpting wax, and let my hands work—I’m a spectator myself.” This process can take several days or even weeks.

In the end, the form is 20 or 25 centimeters tall. “If it’s successful, I cast it in bronze; if not, I look for another solution.” If the casting is only beautiful but not suitable for the saying, he melts the result down—and the design process starts all over again. For example, he was only satisfied with the fourth version of the sculpture for the Michaelmas verse.

“A saying like that is only spoken seven days a year, which means it takes years to build up a relationship with a saying.” Now, after three years of artistic and practical exploration, the 52 weekly sayings can be viewed in their entirety. How this will happen remains to be seen: In the Elisabeth Vreede House in The Hague (NL), the statuettes were distributed in different places in the house; in the Sijthoff in Leiden (NL), they all stood on the same table. “My ideal is that you can see the verses at a glance.” The simpler form is to look at the illustrations in his book Weekspreuken [Weekly Verses].

Purchase the sculptures and book Rik ten Cate

Translation Charles Cross
Image Sculptures of the weekly verse by Rik ten Cate, Photo: Caroline Schroder

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