Oleftal Dam turns into a temporary work of art

Pressure washers help produce world’s largest drawing

Restorative cleaning of buildings and monuments such as the US Presidents’ Heads on Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, or the Colonnades on St. Peter’s Square in Rome is an example of how the cleaning equipment manufacturer Kärcher helps to protect historic monuments worldwide from dilapidation.

In April 2007, as part of its cultural sponsorship programme, rather than preserving art Kärcher for the first time helped to create it – on the Oleftal Dam in Hellenthal in Germany’s Eifel Mountains. In collaboration with the artist Klaus Dauven, it produced the world’s largest drawing on the dam wall, which is 282 metres long and up to 59 metres high. The drawing was executed by a unique method centred not around paint, but around Kärcher pressure washers, which were used as drawing instruments. The 8,000-square-metre drawing “Wild-Wechsel” (Wildlife Variations), featuring outsize animal motifs, was created within just two weeks. Klaus Dauven chose the motifs quite deliberately. “The interplay between woodland animals and fishes goes very well with the surrounding nature park and the lake,” he explained.

After more than a year of detailed planning, the project got under way on 2 April 2007. First, indvidual points of the motif were projected on to the dam wall and marked in modelling clay so as to provide an orientation guide for the artist. Next came the pressure washers. As they removed mosses, algae and lichens, individual elements of the drawing gradually appeared. The contrast between the light areas of the dam wall that had been cleaned and the dark, uncleaned areas revealed impressive portrayals of animals such as squirrels, deer, pike and buzzards.

The project was witnessed by numerous bystanders and tourists who attentively followed what was happening. “Thanks to this work of art we are an attraction richer,” Hellenthal’s Mayor Manfred Ernst said enthusiastically.


Oleftal Dam Video 
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Oleftal Dam Video 
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Oleftal Dam Video 2