The engine built of wood and copper
Eric van Hove, a conceptual artist who works out of Marrakech, Morocco, approached Hamofa Industrial Engines with an unusual proposal: he wanted an engine that he could strip down and then build again – but in materials which you would not expect. Hamofa’s Rob Verhoeven was intrigued by the proposal, and ended up shipping a €50,000 Caterpillar C18 engine to the artist’s studio in Marrakech for van Hove to take apart and then recreate in his own unique way as a separate sculpture. “He came in at 11 o’clock in the morning and left at 6 or 7 in the evening. He’s as fascinated by his thing as I and my family are by engines. I love engines – and he has the same thing about his art.” It was a meeting of minds: van Hove had been preparing for this project for two years but in fact his interest went back much further than that: he was brought up in Africa because his father worked on irrigation projects. The artist was fascinated by how locals repairing a water pump used a wooden copy of a valve to replace the original in order to keep the pump functioning. That led him to thinking about what people can create with their hands – and how that skill could be used to recreate a complex mechanical object. “He made this fascinating, beautiful piece of work that now travels round the world,” says Verhoeven in admiration. “It’s amazing.” It took van Hove and his team of 35 specialist craftsmen thousands of hours to recreate the engine, in local colours, from materials such as copper and wood. The result (above) is stunning. All Hamofa asked in return was that van Hove, when publicising his project in the media, should wear a branded Hamofa cap. The artist was as good as his word in TV interviews. “Caterpillar should buy it and put it in a museum!” suggests Verhoeven, semiseriously. “He’s made it beautiful.”
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