So, back when I was 18 I had to kill time in Bruges for the day and went for a walk up a canal for a few hours. I found myself in a small town with not very much in it. Sitting on a park bench staring at …not very much. A crew of people approached and asked in French if an elderly man who was accompanying them could sketch me.
I’m a “yes” kind of person. So I sat for an hour while an old bloke who only spoke Flemish churned out a good two dozen or so drawings of me from every angle. His crew were making a documentary about him. He, it turns out, was a famous sculptor. He’d been looking for a face for a six-foot bronze sculpture that he was going to make and install in the town…so that it had something in it, perhaps.
The crew were filming the process. The old guy gave me one of his sketches of me. I had it framed years later and whenever I live somewhere a little permanent I hang it. It reminds me of that time in my life.
Ever since then I’ve wondered, what the hell happened to that bronze statue of my head? Did it eventuate post-sketches?
For a good decade there was no way to know. Email, the internet, MySpace (ha!), Google Maps etc. were yet to be invented.
Then I forgot about it.
Then a few weeks ago I made an interesting commitment to myself to “chase up all things that play on my mind randomly for years”. I looked into things.
All I had to work on was sense I walked north east from the centre of Bruges, a scrawled signature of the artist on my sketch and the possibility there was a whopping great bronze sculpture somewhere in the town, no doubt oxidised to a deep green by now. So I hit Google Maps. traced a canal up and to the right and recognised the name of the town – Damme.
Then I Googled “statue in damme images”. And what do you damn-well know…a larger-than-life replica of what I presume to be my head came up, in duplicate. It was by a Charles Delport who died in 2012.
There’s really no point to this post, apart from using it as an opportunity to see if it might dig up the documentary from somewhere. I guess it’s also helped me access some wistfulness, which is what I’m exploring at the moment during this period of chasing up things from my past.