Spiraling Upward
Heading up an imaginary stairs in a spiral movement … where can they be going?
Photo credit: Li Zheng Xin (staff of CapitaMalls Asia), second prize winner of the staff category in the CapitaLand-National Geographic Channel “Building People” Photography Competition 2013

I can think of no other piece in our collection that can match this month’s theme of Inside Different Geographies “scaling new heights” –– better than Inbar Tolla’s bronze sculpture “Sky is the limit”. Displayed at the top of the main staircase at the CapitaLand Institute of Management and Business, or CLIMB in short, this piece was acquired together with another of her creation titled “ Accumulating Knowledge”, placed near the foot of the staircase at the main entrance of the Institute.

It is quite intriguing to see Sky is the Limit after one has climbed the two flights of stairs to reach the second storey of the CLIMB building where all the lecture rooms and class rooms are located. Suddenly one comes face-to-face with this two-meter tall sculpture, which seems to have picked up on the upward movement that one has been executing; except that the scale has changed. All the figures that continue the upward movement are little compared with the size of the actual human being who has been ascending. Suddenly we are detached from our own action and at a lofty vantage point contemplate the climb of a group of little people.

Ten little people to be exact - all in the same size and posture, walking up an imaginary stairs in a spiral movement. Or could it be just one little person with and the spiral recording each step that he makes towards a goal whose limit is defined only by the sky? We can have our different interpretations, but only sculptor Inbar Tolla will have an answer.

Highly Grounded

Born in Germany in 1958, Tolla moved to Israel in 1971 and has since remained in Israel. Besides studying the various forms of visual arts in a number of institutions in Germany and Israel, she also completed a degree in Psychology and Sociology at Tel Aviv University. She currently lives and works in Udim in central Israel and here is what she has written about the purpose of her art:

“I try to make people stop from everyday activities and concerns, step out of the realistic and material race of our time, and take a moment to think about life.”

And that is precisely what a work like Sky is the Limit makes us do. When we suddenly see it, we cannot help but take a moment to think about the little people in front of us. For we too are but little people ourselves and we can identify with the climbing action they are making. We are all climbing, but where are we heading? What are our goals? Perhaps our goals are clear, perhaps not, or perhaps they change over time. Now the sculpture does not attempt to represent the goals, just a continuous motion; a spiral motion. And Tolla has this to say of the spiral:

“Many things in nature grow in spirals, from ferns to seashells to whirlpools. They can be as small the double-helix of a protein molecule, and as large as the spiral arms of the Milky Way. No wonder the spiral is universally recognised as a symbol for growth.”

Aiming High

What are the ultimate goals of our climbing movement? To me, the answer must be about personal growth, about the fulfillment of the potential that each of us as unique individual has, and it cannot be represented in any physical form. One thing however is clear: to be able to reach our full potential, a life-long learning journey is essential and accumulating knowledge must form the basis of this journey. For that it is most apt that Tolla’s Accumulating Knowledge piece is placed at the foot of the main staircase of CLIMB. Here the use of books to represent knowledge must be understood as symbolic - for knowledge can come in many forms especially in the current age of information, and the best source must be the book of life itself.

This article is contributed by CapitaLand Chief of Art Management, Francis Wong Hooe Wai