Groep 85 is a group of sculptors, most of them from Nijmegen in the Netherlands, who have worked together since 1985, making both individual carvings and working on joint projects. In 2001 they arranged a visit to Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust (PSQT) for a stone carving and sculpture workshop. Having discussed the quarry regeneration project with Hannah Sofaer and Paul Crabtree of PSQT their focus became an area of Tout Quarry.   Each year since Groep 85 has travelled to Portland to regenerate this area: clearing the broken glass, rusty metal and bricks, replacing the rubble with limestone, encouraging natural regeneration by native plants and animals, creating a new landform with carvings of extinct animals and ancient history, assembling a record of life carved in stone .

I am Resy Croonenberg, born in 1951 in Echt, the Netherlands. Now I am retired. In the past I worked as a parent-counsellor.
I started carving in 1990. Since 2006 I have come to Portland yearly to carve in Tout Quarry.
I went to Portland for the first time because I was inspired by the tremendous enthusiasm of two fellow carvers from Groep 85, Maurice Dorren and Jac Schmidt. They invited me to join them. I was curious and wanted to understand what made them come to the same place for so many years to make sculptures. Since the first time I participated, I knew and understood.
It is a unique experience to work in stone in such natural and historical surroundings. Tout Quarry is the place where innumerable stoneworkers have given their energy cutting limestone out of mother earth by hand. It is a privilege to be allowed to work there. We have the opportunity to carve in big boulders, with a very nice group of people, accompanied by the sea and the birds and the visitors of Tout Quarry.
I am touched by Portland, in both the limestone and the history.

I am Coby Dam. I have been a sculptor since 1977. Originally I made sculptures only in clay, but since 1987 I have worked as much with stones such as Belgian ashlar, black and white marble, limestone and alabaster. At home I give workshops in my own 'Studio CeeDee'.
I belong to the first group of carvers from Groep 85 who came to Portland in 2001 to carve in the fabulous Portland Stone. I was so excited about carving there that I returned every year. Of course I enjoy the island of Portland very much.
When we arrived in 2001 we hoped to be allowed to carve in Tout Quarry, but we were not at that time. So we decided to clean up the area next to the quarry. Now I am very proud we succeeded in realising what we call "The Circle of Stones", our very own sculpture park.
You can find one of my sculptures in the garden of 'The George Inn' the oldest pub on the island not far from the Circle of Stones.

My name is Maurice Dorren (1956), living in Nijmegen. After finishing my study History of Art at the University of Nijmegen, I started in 1990 and followed a workshop 'carving in stone' at the Free Academy De Lindenberg. There I met the other carvers of the future 'Portland-Group'. In 2001 our first visit to Tout Quarry at Portland was a great success. The island with its diverse and unique nature and the friendly people living there, enticed me back there every year. The rich geological history of the island with its famous Portland Stone and its fossils, and also the beautiful atmosphere in the closed down quarries, are an important source of inspiration for my sculptures. Also carving in more than life size and from the inner structure unpredictable capstones, lying in their natural environment, gives me a great and satisfying feeling. In a way, through our sculptures, certain aspects of the geological and historical past as well as mythical times come to life again in a personal way with individual forms. That is, in short, what my participation in a project like ‘The Circle of Stones’ is based upon: respect for the earth and its natural forces. I feel privileged to be part of this Group and to be involved in this fantastic project. 

My name is Hetty van der Eng. I live in Nijmegen, Holland and work there as a clinical research coordinator. Since 2009 I have come to Portland to carve with my friends from Groep 85, invited by members of the group who infected me with their enthusiasm. It is a feast to visit the Island and work in that environment, with a stone that shapes so well. The area where we work, next to Tout Quarry used to be a dump. Now however it has become a very special place where people like to come to contemplate and of course to look at the sculptures that we have made. It is a great experience to be part of this environment.

My name is Herman Groen, born in 1952. In daily life I am a psychiatrist/(group)psychotherapist. But I am also a father of three sons (two of them being rock stars, the eldest working in IT). I started carving more than 25 years ago and have been a member of Group 85 ever since. I have been a a participant of The Circle of stones for fthe past four years. I am inspired by the human form and try to express what I see.  Recently I developed more abstract anti-relief, creating a three dimensional stone painting. That will be the kind of composition, in stone, wood and metal. It suggests: looking on the inside, as I do in my work. Portland is almost the best thing that ever happened to me: my wife Alie (1955) is the best. I love to work in the tough huge stone, to meet all kinds of fossils and little living creatures in the stone. Not finished yet, I will return on my bike: the Triumph Rocket 3.

I am Bep Klaassen, born in 1938 in Cuijk. I began sculpting in stone in 1985. My motivation for coming to Portland to carve arose from the possibility to produce large sculptures whilst working in beautiful surroundings with a view of the sea. I love the Island, the people around me and the great sculptures which have been made over the years.

My name is Jan Willem Lackamp, born in 1948. In daily life I am an ad interim manager in secondary education, but I used to be a principal.
I started carving about twelve years ago at the local art centre in the city of Nijmegen. There I met a group of carvers, who named themselves 'Groep 85'.
Their inspiring tales about carving at the Isle of Portland next to Tout Quarry made me decide to participate. I have been carving there since 2011, after retiring from my job as a principal.
As a relative newcomer I am still exploring my talents and developing a personal style. In Nijmegen I worked with all sorts of stones, never repeating what I had done before. For my project in the Circle of Stones I was inspired by Barbara Hepworth. So at the centre of my piece there is a large hole which opens a window to the world.

 

My name is Bianca Oude Groeniger and I was born in 1984 in the little village of Delden in the East of the Netherlands. I moved to Nijmegen at the start of my Human Geography Studies. A few years ago I started working as a consultant for municipalities and non-profit organisations focusing on social housing and urban development. In my pastime, I wanted to work with my hands; I desired to do something creative and artisanal. So I signed up for a beginner’s course sculpting at ‘De Lindenberg’. I immediately liked working with stone and I enjoyed the patience you need to give it the shape you want. Group 85 invited me to join them on their visit to Tout Quarry in Portland, where I went for the first time in 2013. I find it a very special place where I had a fantastic time. In the upcoming years I hope to learn a lot about carving and I wish to develop my own personal style, so I can contribute to this beautiful project. 

My name is Liesbeth Roorda, born in 1940. I am a retired teacher at a secondary school for children with learning difficulties. I have participated in the Portland project of Groep 85 since the very beginning in 2001. Before being named as the Circle of Stones the area we worked in used to be known as the "Dutch Corner"
It feels very much like coming home at the rough Portland peninsula every year. I enjoy feeling the wind and the rough weather, to smell the sea, to work in the old quarry and to meet old friends. I find it challenging to make something beautiful out of the old quarry leftovers and leave it behind! It is also wonderful to work together in a group of such highly motivated fellow sculptors!

 
 

I am Jan Willem Rutgers, born 1947. I am retired now, but before that I worked in ambulatory mental health care and the management of it. I started sculpting in 1986 at the Free Academy 'de Lindenberg' in Nijmegen with Peter Dekkers, and I have been doing it ever since.
When I was visiting friends in Weymouth (Angie and Allen Briggs) they introduced me to a sculpture park in Tout Quarry on the Isle of Portland.  There I met Hannah Sophaer who was running stone carving workshops in the quarry itself. It was a wonderful experience to see this artistic and historic open air sculpture project, with the beautiful light and the sea, the authentic scenery, the inspiring works of art and the abundance of good stone for sculpting.  In Holland we always had to work inside and with relatively small stones. So when I spoke about this at home, to my fellow sculptors (I was part of, Groep 85,) my friends were enthusiastic and we decided to pay a visit the next year. This was the start of the Dutch project, in which I have enjoyed participating for many years.

I am Paul Saris born in Rotterdam in 1946. In my working life I was a salesman in central heating equipment, now my visiting-card says: Salesman, Sculptor, organiser, advisor, innovator and granddad. In 1987 i was advised to look for a creative activity where I could work with my hands instead of my head, I discovered stone carving and fell in love.
It’ is not my brain or imagination that dictates the form, but the Stone itself determines what kind of sculpture will evolve.  I enjoy this way of working with the Stone, my dream has always been to create monumental sculptures that change the surroundings. Portland gives me that opportunity.   Since 2001 I have visited Portland and the quarry twice a year.  In summer I arrive alone with my camper to organise the group’s stay and to enjoy the whole island and the Dutch space.
In September I’m there with the group to work with these amazing and challenging boulder sized capstones. By now this place has become so special to me that I ordered my children to scatter my ashes over The Circle of Stones when the time comes.

I am Jac Schmidt, born in Nijmegen in the Netherlands. I am 73 years old. I have been a sculptor since 1980 and from 1985 I am a member of Groep 85. My last job was a computer expert.
I experience carving primarily as a challenge. Time and again it is a 'struggle' to set free,  out of a piece of stone,  what is potentially already there. I don’t make sketches or models of the image I'm going to make, as I feel it will take away a large part of the pleasure of being challenged while carving. While sculpting I get new ideas and insights, which makes the process so exciting to me.
I think I haven’t developed a unique style as my character probably is too impulsive. Rather I rely on what comes to my mind while carving.

Ria Schoen

My name is Ria Schoen. I was born in 1956. I am a social worker. It is my passion to create sculptures out of stone. I was educated to be a creative arts therapist. In 1989 I started carving in stone. In 2001 I came to the Isle of Portland and got acquainted with Portland stone and the beautiful scenery. It is great to have the opportunity to come to this place yearly for a fortnight. I enjoy it very much to be carving there. 

 
Maria Thijssen

My name is Maria Thijssen, born 1937 in the village of St. Anthonis in The Netherlands.
I worked as a teacher for physically disabled boys and girls. It was fascinating work. Several years ago I retired. In 1988 I began carving in stone, especially marble. Since 2001 I came to Portland once a year in order to carve in Tout Quarry. After ten years I decided to stop carving in Portland so 2010 was the last time I went there. 
I cherish my memories of the special time I spent there, carving in large boulders of Portland stone, in the company of a nice group of people, in the Dutch area I have produced several sculptures. They are still at the site: the owl, a sheep, a dog, a seal, a monkey, a butterfly and a shell. 
My hope is to return to Portland once more in the future, to look at the sculptures and to pay a visit to that wonderful island.

My name is Leendert Wijtman. I was born in 1948 in the South-East of the Netherlands where I worked as a chemical technician.  However since 1982 I have become  almost totally blind therefore I now  percieve a shape  quite simply as a hazy smear. I have a guidedog called Morris; who was born in 2008.
Since 1988 I have studied stone carving at the Vrije Academie in Nijmegen.  In 1993
I became a member of a group of carvers who had joined forces and become known as Groep ’85. I have participated in their carving related activities and exhibitions ever since.
I have carved in Tout Quarry at Portland with the group since the very beginning of the project in 2001.
At first I experienced the quarry as a lunar landscape of loose lying boulders. But now, in 2013, there is a large oval space, known as the Dutch area, with a carved stone table at it’s centre.  This table is surrounded by a circle of stones. Surrounding these are two rows of sculptures in an oval patron.
This whole project has been a  tremendous achievement for our group which makes me very proud. The area evolved with a lot of hard work and laughter and ultimately we have made great friends and contacts with the local people.