Today I want to tell you a little story as a prelude to a project I want to start soon. When I was ten, I received a comic album by Henk Kuijpers, which tells the story of a young and adventurous Dutch investigator called Franka. Through her investigations she had made powerful enemies and, as a consequence, the airplane she’s travelling with is sabotaged and she is plunged into the ocean and swept ashore on a seemingly uninhabited tropical island. I won’t tell the story of her subsequent adventures, but instead concentrate on a particular scene in the story that I have been drawn to for nearly 30 years. Exploring the island, Franka discovers a little lagoon in the middle of the jungle, with a waterfall, flowers, fish and a beautiful bird. She lies down in the water and floats for a while, thinking that this is even nicer than she imagined. For some reason this image has always attracted and soothed me. Sometimes when I’m restless and find it hard to fall asleep, I try to imagine that I’m Franka floating in the lagoon.
The reason why this image has come back to me at this point is connected to my recent trip to Thailand. One day I participated in a boat trip to a place they call the Emerald Cave (Tham Morakot) on Ko Mook island. To get to the cave (which is more a crater than a cave) you have to swim approximately 80 meters (87 yards) through a pitch-dark tunnel with bats. Once you get out of the tunnel, you’re in a secret lagoon with shallow water, a small sandy beach and towering cliffs on all sides. The only way to get in is to swim through the tunnel or fly there. While admiring the view, I got a bit chilly as the air was cooler in the crater and my clothes were wet. I decided to get back in the water to warm myself, and suddenly I had a notion of lying down in the water to float for a while. That way I could admire the surrounding cliffs and sky without straining my neck. It wasn’t until much later that I realised what I’d done. I’d been Franka for a while. For some reason this thought really cheers me, and I’ve decided that I’m going to make a Franka wall quilt with this scene to remind me of my special moment.
© Henk Kuijpers 1979, Interpresse and Carlsen/if 1981