Bert Hermans
Oil on canvas

This painting shows the central machine hall of the 'Woudagemaal' (pumping station) in Lemmer. In the basement of the pumping station a man can be seen who is in danger of drowning.
The 'Ir. D.F. Woudagemaal' is the largest steam pumping station in the world. It is still in operation from time to time. The pumping station is located in Lemmer near Tacozijl in Friesland in the Netherlands. It is used on average once a year, usually during periods of heavy rain and wind. This is intended to keep the Frisian storage water at the required level if the pumping station at Stavoren cannot provide sufficient capacity due to circumstances. The pumping station has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1998.
In the enormous machine hall depicted here are four steam engines with four flywheels coupled to them, which are still operational. The steam engines and flywheels drive eight round pumps that move approximately six million m³ of water per day.
The man in the water in the basement symbolizes the consequences of the climate crisis. According to the most recent scientific reports, sea levels will rise to a maximum of about one meter on average worldwide by the end of this century.
In addition, global warming increases the likelihood of high water, which can lead to flooding. Climate change is also accompanied by more extreme rainfall events.
In addition to sea level rise and more extreme rainfall, soil subsidence in the Netherlands is an important factor that increases the risk of flooding and its consequences.
The land is sinking relative to the water level. As a result, in the event of a flood, the water depth will increase and the flood may also last longer. Even the powerful Woudagemaal will eventually no longer be able to prevent a high water level.