This, to me, was an unforgettable occurrence and coupled with the hotel that all of this took place in being named ‘Splendid’, I find it unavoidable to say, and to see, that all of this was indeed a ‘Splendid Coincidence’.
Later that evening, I retraced some of my earlier footsteps along one of the old cobbled streets and found what I was told to be one of the few remaining internet cafés in Zurich, where I sat and relayed that afternoon’s events and revelations, via email, to Les Barany in New York.
Awakening the next day, it was with a more defined sense of purpose and with a feeling of empowerment that I began my journeys of Monday, 19th of March 2007.
Not my first of Zurich trips of course, but these adventures that lay ahead were to allow me benefit gained from personal invitation.
So, to begin my discoveries, I travelled first to the home of one of the world’s most prominent collectors of Giger Art, Marco Witzig.
Marco is also one half of the collaboration that gives us ‘The Giger Work Catalogue’ which was founded in 2007 with Matthias Belz and is without doubt a most comprehensive and detailed database of HR Giger’s two dimensional and three dimensional Work.
I was met at one of Zurich’s suburban railway stations, by Marco, at exactly the time he had told me that the train would arrive there.
We walked to Marco’s home and entered what I would describe as being a Giger collector’s utopia.
I remember that we drank coffee on a sheltered balcony outside as a shower of very large hail stones descended, between one and two centimetres in diameter, clattering on all surfaces around us as they landed heavily before we returned to the collection inside.
Much to my delight, I was given detailed descriptions of works by HR Giger and their histories as Marco delivered his own private seminar in the surroundings of his extensive and amazing collection, within his home.
Later that afternoon, it was from Marco’s home that I dialled a telephone number given to me personally by HR Giger whilst in the restaurant in Basel only two nights earlier and, with this, Giger and I shared a short conversation to finalise what would be my arrival at their home of Carmen and him.
Equipped with a street map given to me by Marco to guide me through the maze of streets in which the Gigers’ home was to be found, I travelled by train from Marco’s home suburb of Zurich to the Gigers’ home suburb of Zurich.
It was with what seemed to be considerable ease that I found my way to the Gigers’ home and was warmly greeted by Carmen at their door.
I remember, vividly, how instantly I was made to feel so welcomed into their home, by Carmen.
Walking together through to the kitchen, I was introduced to Ronald Brandt and to André Faust, both seated at the table and taking a short break from the work that they were involved in for HR Giger.
I discovered shortly after this first meeting that Ronald and André were working together on a previously ordered black resin Harkonnen Chair, in HR Giger’s atelier.
Ronald Brandt had been working for HR Giger since the early 1990s, under instruction and as the Sculptor who aided to bring Giger’s two dimensional designs into the physical reality of three dimensional being.
At the time of my visit, André Faust was working alongside Ronald Brandt as his sculpting assistant for the works that were being brought to life in HR Giger’s atelier, situated behind the Zodiac Fountain in HR Giger’s garden.
The first two hours of my visit seemed just to evaporate, as if time itself no longer existed or registered as the entity by which we are so often bound, in everyday life. These were indeed, exceptional days.
It was during those first two hours that Carmen guided me through some of the parts of their home; we talked as we walked, pausing at various locations to discuss what I was being shown, amazed and enthralled by all that surrounded me.
I had been told by Carmen that HR Giger was working in his room; however, it was whilst walking through those seemingly timeless passages that we all met together, in one part of the house.
Poised and dignified, our warm and cordial meeting was short but affectionate; to be fondly remembered although difficult to describe. Here we venture into the realms of my own personal experiences and their affects upon me; but not necessarily to be revealed or shared in a public domain.
Early evening soon arrived and with it came the generous invitation to stay for dinner. With acceptance of course, I settled into a seat at the kitchen table where Carmen and I shared further conversations on Giger Art and its affects upon us both.
A knock on the door and into the kitchen walked Alf Battig and Flaminio Gaggioni; familiar faces from recent encounters, laden with cartons of Chinese food for us to share between us.
So, there was I, on a darkening evening in March 2007, sharing a table in the house of HR Giger with his wife Carmen and in the company of truly uniquely talented people; artists and sculptors and lovers of all.
To be complimented upon my photographic endeavours on previously captured exhibitions of Giger’s works, by this small and select gathering of which I was a part, was probably more than I ever expected, but with this too came a sense of high achievement and personal satisfaction.
Finally satisfied by the food and wine that we shared at that table, a small group of us ventured upstairs for our evening’s entertainment of watching ‘The Blair Witch Project’ together.
Within the room where we watched that film, there hung behind one of the leather settees on which we sat, a painting that I could have only dreamed of viewing for myself, before that time.
It was while I had previously seen a draft version of the book ‘The Giger Work Catalogue’ that I found an apparently unfinished version of “Under the Earth” which instantly caught my eye and attentions; and on that evening of March 2007, there I was standing before it, dwarfed by its image and its overwhelming presence of purity and beauty.
Inevitably, the evening’s end arrived and I was offered a spare seat with Alf and Flaminio for the journey by car, returning to Zurich’s central location and to that of my hotel in Neiderdorf.
With the knowledge of my Zurich trip approaching the end of its time allowed to me, it was with understanding of this aspect that Carmen had invited me to return to their home on the following day, my last day in Zurich.
On Tuesday, 20th of March 2007, I walked away from the location of my ‘Splendid Coincidence’ without being able to wish a farewell to Mia, as she was not on the premises at the time of my early departure.
I retraced my footsteps for a final time along the cobbled stones of the old streets of Neiderdorf, as my luggage and I trundled our way toward Zurich’s main railway station where I deposited the majority of my luggage before heading once more to the home of the Gigers.
Welcomed again by Carmen into their house, I walked through to the kitchen where I was offered strong coffee and pear bread for my morning’s delight.
Unlike my visit of the previous evening, I now had the benefit of Tuesday’s daylight and with this came the opportunity to capture on celluloid some of my surroundings and the activities therein.
So, following the suggestion from Carmen, I walked through a set of glass double doors and made my way through HR Giger’s garden and into his atelier, found beyond the Zodiac Fountain.