‘The instructor should hang this over his desk’


Flora Tata Metallica from Tinkebell.Picture Tinkebell

Tinkebell is known for his socially engaged art, especially his provocative works of art on animal welfare. Later in her career, she also focused on international issues, such as the refugee crisis and the consequences of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

While her projects in Japan stalled due to the pandemic, Tinkebell was contacted in February 2021 by Frisse Wind, a fund from the IJmond region that had filed a lawsuit against Tata Steel. ‘For years, local residents have been trying to draw attention to the pathogenic emissions from the steel mills, but without success,’ she says. ‘It’s like the people of Groningen’s fight against natural gas extraction.’

Flora Tata Metallica.  Picture Tinkebell

Flora Tata Metallica.Picture Tinkebell

Fresh Wind hoped Tinkebell could raise the issue. Together with Sanne Walvisch, founder of Frisse Wind, the artist went into the dunes near Wijk aan Zee. ‘I pulled a magnet through the sand there and a big bundle of black dust immediately stuck to it. I knew right away that I wanted to do something about it. The same day I did a trial version. ‘

She can show that work of art: a negative made with fabric on a wooden board of plants from the vicinity of the factories. ‘Fresh Wind explained to me that due to the pollution, fewer plant species are growing in the region, so it seemed logical to me to do something about both the dust and those plants.’

Tinkebell statue Ivo van der Bent

TinkebellStatue of Ivo van der Bent

Making the works is time consuming, so Tinkebell continues to work during the conversation. She uses a magnet to extract black dust from a bucket of dune sand from Wijk aan Zee over a table. ‘To fill an area of ​​about one square meter, I do this for fifteen to twenty hours. It quickly becomes deadly. As soon as I have enough material, I make a composition on a canvas with dried plants. I spray it fixer over and then I blow the dust on it so it sticks. Eventually I remove the flowers again and a negative is created. For two weeks, I still spray fixer over the canvas every day to strengthen it. So the buyers of my art do not have to worry about inhaling Tata dust. ‘

The situation is different for the creator of the works of art. Working with the material for more than a few hours presents problems. ‘It gives me headaches, I get dizzy, and at the end of the week I often get nosebleeds. I wear gloves and a mask to protect myself. But if I blow the dust on the cloths, I can not put on a mask.

Flora Tata Metallica statue Tinkebell

Flora Tata MetallicaPicture Tinkebell

At the same time, her working method is a conscious choice: ‘By blowing the dust myself, I get a more precise result than with a device. And I would do my own research into how dangerous the Tata Steel emissions really are, instead of gathering myself behind Fresh Wind beforehand. I work with the material for a short time, but local residents have to wipe a layer of carcinogenic, black deposits from their window sills every day. Those who are concerned about my health while doing this should also ask themselves why people are allowed to live in IJmond under these conditions. ‘

When asked if consciousness is a measure of Flora Tata Metallica Tinkebell replies that she thinks it’s an annoying buzzword. ‘It’s not just about raising awareness, it’s about solving this problem. It is 2022 that we must find a way to produce steel cleanly. I think the top man in Tata Steel Holland, Hans van den Berg, is a fantastic work on my part Flora Tata Metallicaseries and hang it over his desk to remind himself daily of what he is responsible for. ”

Flora Tata Metallica can be seen until 18/6 in the Torch Gallery in Amsterdam.

Many years of genes

The nuisance to the environment of Tata Steel will continue for decades and will temporarily get even worse. This is due to the work of rebuilding the steel factory into a more sustainable and cleaner production process. Tata Steel hopes to have a first factory in 2030, where iron is made with hydrogen instead of coal. Only then can parts that now cause a lot of nuisance in terms of emissions and odors be closed.

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