Ulrike Holthöfer
sculptures and objects,
projects and concepts,
Niederl�rickerstr. 88   40667 Meerbusch Fon Fax +49 (0)211 57 00 58

“Free Kick”, a football becomes a garden   
JVA Bochum   

On invitation of the Ministry of Art and Culture NRW ( West Germany ) I developed an outdoor sculpture in the shape of an oversized football formed in earth ( soil ), stones and plants and situated in the inner courtyard of the JVA Bochum ( penal institution ). After a first viewing of the prison site, I thought about ways to introduce joy, beauty and sensitivity to this place. I wanted to produce an object which would enable the prisoners’ participation and inspire their creativity through direct experience and identification.
The general idea of this greenball originated in inquiring the local management, what it was that would give the people in this place the biggest pleasure. The answer was “ football “ and as the Ministry of this country voted for a piece of art including green foliaged plants for the inner courtyard, I visualised a football flying out of the nearby Ruhr Stadium like a shooting star or a comet, landing right in the middle of the open air ground of the JVA. Here it rises up 1,30 m above the ground and is gardened ( because of the security guidelines it wasn’t permitted to construct objects higher then 1,30 m in the inner courtyard ).
The ball segment enlarged to a 10 m diameter, consisting of soil with honeycombed 5 and 6-cornered areas defined by thin lines of stones, offers fields for ecological seed. Light and dark foliaged plants distinct this vegetable kitchen garden. The prisoners’ cell windows give a direct overview on the ball and during outdoor time it can be used for walk round. Interest prisoners can make use of this “functional sculpture” in particular to garden independently the honeycombed earth segments throughout the year, thus harvesting healthy crops such as fresh cut salads, spinach, potatoes, beans, carrots, basil, olives and other herbs for substantial meals and drinks.
The first planting during summer 2009 was guided by myself personally, to demonstrate and give an impression of the intended use, aesthetics and care of the project.
The ball should consist of covered green and dark, red planted fields, so it can be easily identified as a football by its colours. It is designed as a kitchen vegetable garden as an opportunity for reviving ecological gardening skills in this institution JVA. The result should be beautiful and inspire the view from the cell windows and motivate care, sowing, weeding and healthy nutrition by “home grown” products.
Interesting, how the football as a garden will develop in future. It will further be in need of care, gentle organisation and responsibility by its users. In an exemplary manner participation and conscious creative expression can happen here. The football becomes playground and indicator for a humane manner of dealing with nature and an identification with something that is self-created: All this means of ecological gardening. This exemplary model of an ecological ballgarden may well fly away over Germany and land elsewhere in the world. It will be exciting where it happens.
Much joy with it!
Ulrike Holthöfer
Urbane Practice: series of functional sculptures
the idea is protected by the artist
copyright VG Bild-Kunst 2008/2009
Thanks to all who participated at JVA Bochum, to the Ministry of Art and Culture NRW, to the BLB Dortmund, Stefan and Uli. Dedicated to all prisoners and carers, and to all furthering this form of
gardening in future.

Ideas, concepts, realisations and photographs are protected. © Ulrike Holthöfer (VG Bild-Kunst)