wie bouwt er nooit eens luchtkastelen - 1986

Under the title 'Who never builds castles in the air', Nijmegen artist Bart Drost created a wall painting over two fa├žade walls in the alley between In de Betouwstraat and Eerste Walstraat in Nijmegen. The painting was temporary in nature and intended to span a period of 5 years.
In the narrow street, one wall has the text and fragments of blue abstract shapes. The opposite wall shows a structure of green leaf shapes.

The Lower Town Committee, which visited Drost's studio during the design phase, was also involved in the preparations. Drost was inspired by elements that are indispensable in a city: 'green', 'leeway' and 'air'. The wall with green leaves marks the Kronenburgerpark; the light blue figures are the residual shapes of boy figures that Drost sawed from plywood for his exhibition 'a socker pitch' in 1985. The green side is said to be 'overcrowded', the blue side almost 'virgin'.

In the final phase, Drost added the text 'who never builds castles in the air'. A sigh, a hope, a wish. That we continue to believe in the possibility of realizing dreams ...

The painting is well received by the young graffiti community in Nijmegen: they decide not to spray over it. But the years pass, the graffiti group changes composition and miscreants add their own symbol / text / graffiti over the painting. Every 5 years or so, Drost paints the wall with the leaves, over the graffiti.


In 2012, Drost was commissioned to adapt the mural: the graffiti on the cream-colored wall was considered inappropriate and Drost painted a number of boy figures that were part of 'a football field' at the time.


In 2019, the work of art is definitively destroyed by the owner of the leaf wall: he paints a 2-meter high black track and then has a graffiti-style advertisement applied to it in 2021.




a bizarre history

The execution and delivery of the mural was not smooth sailing. This is evident from the private correspondence with his German best friend B that Drost conducted at the time:

Nijmegen 12/6/86
- Next Monday the painting company will start pretreating the walls. Thursday I apply the Blues on it. So that continues. Everything according to plan. The next week it is the turn of the Leaves. I hope the job will be done in two weeks. Maybe good to keep the cork on the bottle for a while. That is certainly advisable as soon as I start painting the mural. After all, you should not falter on a 10 meter high jetty!

Nijmegen 17/6/86

- I'll go look at the walls in a minute. The company started today. With a narrow jetty and that is difficult. Now I always need help moving it.

Nijmegen 26/6/86

-- The wall. All leaves are now on it. Work 6 days, 8 hours a day. It has become wonderful. Tomorrow the Blues will be ready. And Saturday the text. It is new, and hardly anyone remembers it because it is not in the design. It will read on the wall:
who doesn't want

to build castles

in the air

In gold letters. A nice painter boy will do this for me. F150, -. Black. The mural will have an official opening. An air cushion will be provided for the children. To jump in. A 4 x 4 meter plastic castle. F225. On Wednesday afternoon. With lemonade!

Nijmegen 1/7/86

- The mural! There is a lot of hassle going on around it. A riot! The neighborhood committee and the city official cannot bear the text written on the wall. And the number of Blues would not be enough. This afternoon I spoke with them at the town hall. In one hour I have become very angry 12 times. The bottom line is that they feel that the work delivered differs too much from the design. Of course I don't think that at all. I told them that if they don't like the job, they shouldn't pay me a fee. A committee will now consider all this. Due to all this crap, the 'opening' has now also been postponed. If I have to, I'll rent an air castle myself one day. Then I give a private party for the children. And that despite the walls are beautiful, clear and pure. But how they deal with it now is really outrageous. "who never builds castles in the air"?

Well I do! Either way, it's good that I made this work. I don't know how all this will turn out. ..... By my standards, I have completed the assignment well. Enough about this. I took eight slides from the walls today. So everything is fixed.

Nijmegen 16/8/86

- Yesterday I went to the town hall with (again) a conversation about the mural. The committee keeps nagging. I am as clear as can be. If they think the wall is not good, they will not pay out! Anyway. I notice that I am standing very strong.

Nijmegen 18/10/86

- The municipality pays the mural!

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Bart Drost

free artist

Graafseweg 183a
6531ZR Nijmegen
The Netherlands