Industrial teahouses with international artist duo Winter/Hoerbelt
We caught up with BA (Hons) Fine Art students Kevin Rolph and Christopher Kendall following their intense placement with artists Wolfgang Winter and Berthold Hoerbelt in March.
Operating under the title Winter/Hoerbelt, the artists have shared a long history of collaboration since 1992, creating work that has been both exhibited and commissioned internationally. Combining and expanding the boundaries of sculpture and architecture, their body of work reinvigorates the space in which it exists.
How did you get the opportunity to work with Berthold Hoerbelt & Wolfgang Winter?
Kevin Rolph: I met Berthold Hoerbelt & Wolfgang Winter while I was installing their exhibition ‘BimBam im Selbst’ at contemporary art space KARST in September 2016. I was in my second year on the BA (Hons) Fine Art course here at the college and completing an internship as a technician at KARST. After I had been installing BimBam for a couple of days they approached me and asked if I would join them in Cambridge in October 2016 to install their sculptural two-floor Pavilion FATA MORGANA TEAHOUSE. I agreed straight away realising this would be a great opportunity and wasn’t to be missed.
About 16 months after assisting them with the first phase I received an email from Berthold asking if I would come back to Cambridge, working with them again to do the final finish. Health and safety had found some steel burrs that were quite sharp and before they would sign the Teahouse off ready for the public opening, we had to grind the burrs down and make good. They also asked me if I could organise someone else with experience to come along and help, so I asked fellow third-year student Christopher Kendall.
Christopher Kendall: Kevin had been involved in the project from its conception almost two years ago and I was honoured than Kevin considered me for the job.
I first became aware of Wolfgang Winter and Berthold Hörbelt’s work back in 2016 when I helped in the deinstall of the ‘BimBam im Selbst’ exhibition. Although on that occasion I did not meet the artists in person, I had a good idea of the type of work they were producing. This was a fantastic opportunity to gain paid hands-on experience working with two internationally renowned artists.
What is it that you like about their work and them as artists?
KR: I really liked their artworks at BimBam, they were very well made and everything about them was professional and of high-quality. The work is about creating immersive experiences which is a theme I have explored in my own practice. They had real enthusiasm for what they were doing which motivated me to follow in their footsteps. It’s important to have a good rapport with the people you’re working for.
You worked on the Fata Morgana Teahouse, what do you think of the piece?
KR: Being made of stainless steel, the Fata Morgana Teahouse reflects the light around it, and when the sun hits it you get a reddish golden glow emanating from it. Another thing I liked was its overall shape, the calming rolling curves are beautiful.
What was your average day like?
KR: We worked on the first phase of the build for about 10 hours a day. It was quite heavy work, but we worked as a team with no rushing and slowly fixed every panel firmly and safely. By the end of the build, no one had any injuries, which on a new build and working with steel was fantastic. Every day was long, but every day was rewarding as you saw the construction develop.
CK: Using hand-held Dremel drills Kevin and I were left to the mammoth task of removing each burr one by one. Working methodically, we both chose a section of the steel to work on. This was pretty much the routine every day from Tuesday to Thursday.
What was a highlight of your time working with them?
KR: Working with Berthold and Wolfgang is a highlight in itself. They both have a wonderful sense of humour and when this is combined with a professional approach to artistic practice it was a delight to experience.
And what was the biggest challenge?
KR: I think the biggest challenge with the job was to get the first phase of the build complete in two weeks with all the sorting out of panels and parts in the right order. As it happens we finished it with maybe an hour of daylight left on the last day of the build.
What did you learn that might influence your future work?
KR: I learned a number of important things by working so closely with established international artists. When you have a big build, some of the main things you need to do are record everything and make a detailed plan of how you expect the build to go and to work as a team with lots of communication between you. “Safety First”, this was not only an important aspect of the process but also a catchphrase that was heard every day.
CK: The evenings provided a good opportunity to discuss my practice and future aspirations with Wolfgang. He was very strong in the opinion that I should consider a career in teaching. He also showed me new (secret) projects on which he was working with Berthold. It was not long before I received an email from Wolfgang not only thanking us for all our hard work but also a fantastic reference and an invitation to work with them again should they get any more jobs in the UK.