by Pauline van Lynden, edited by Vanessa Everts, Visual Legacy, 2007, 288 pp
ISBN978 90 811850 4 2 English
ISBN978 90 811850 1 1 Dutch

Winner Zeeuwse Boekenprijs 2008

Long lines of oak trunks mark the south-western beaches of the Netherlands. Since the Middle Ages they have born witness to a continuous history of trial and error in man’s struggle to defend his land from erosion. This spectacular site is now officially protected as cultural heritage. Rediscovering the wooden breakwaters she had known since childhood, Pauline van Lynden began by drawing and photographing them and ended up exploring a culture defined by its relationship with the sea. With a wealth of historical and scientific documents from private and public collections as well as 200 pages of Van Lynden's own photographs, A RESISTIBLE FORCE tells a personal story of discovery.

After an initial period of human habitation, the sea tightened its grip on the land again and inundations transformed the whole area of Zeeland into an inhospitable delta of creeks and mudflats. Attacks by Germanic tribes from beyond the frontier of the Roman Empire added to what had already become a precarious existence. Around 300 AD most inhabitants, including the Romans, deserted Walcheren and it would take until the seventh century before people returned, by which time the sea had deposited enough clay to make the region accessible again. Most of its creeks had filled up and in the process had become higher ground than their subsiding surroundings. It was here that people began to settle and to develop some farming. Still today, all the Walcheren towns and villages are located on these ancient creeks, which also underlie those narrow winding roads that are so characteristic of the island.

Text and photograph © Pauline van Lynden