William Sweetlove (1949) and Bart Ramakers (1963) are both well-established Belgian artists in their own right, working and living in Belgium. They often participate in or organise collective exhibitions in Belgium or around Europe. However, their most monumental artistic collaboration was their recent art installation and book project Flora and The Water Warriors (2019), a sculptural set of seven figurines. The project was originally presented as part of a collective show at Namur's 4th edition of the Festival of Contemporary Art (2019). The project was later exhibited as a duo show at De Notelaer Pavillion in Hingene (2019).
Sweetlove combines Dadaism with surrealism and Pop Art in his witty cloned animals, which he has produced for nearly two decades. Armed with water bottles (PET), these animals are designed to fight climate change from further environmental degradation. And so does Bart Ramakers, who, according to the artist's website, is "a creator of new myths and gods for a new world in photography, video making and sculpture". His photographic stories are destined to save the world. Their collaborative project transforms Ramakers's two-dimensional photographic stories into three-dimensional stories by Sweetlove's sculptures. According to Jonas Slaats, the author of the book of the same title (2019), the artists decided to make the ancient goddess of Flora as a modern woman to help us protect our climate and environment. Her companions are water warriors with PET bottles on their backs who are on their mission to defend the world from further environmental disasters. The message of the project is clear. It brings to mind the absurdity of our times – the commodification of water by corporations during the last 30 years, as water by private ownership is not intended as a fundamental human right but as a product on the market. Water is now on the stock exchange. The project also recalls the poetic story in the Metamorphoses (8 AD) by Latin poet Ovid, in which the goddess Letona, the mother of Apollo and Artemis, angrily shouts Aqua communis est! (“Water belongs to everyone!”), when on her wonders through the fields was denied a drink of water from the pond by the farmers. Denying drinking water to thirsty passers-by was considered a sin, so she turned the farmers into frogs and made them jump into the pond. Sweetlove and Ramakers made the warriors recycle the polluting plastic into bottles that "bring pure water from the source of life to the thirsty for free. With that water, they extinguish the flames of destruction and irrigate the arid earth until paradise flourishes again, where food and drink are available for everyone."
It is now clear to most of us: a few more moments of persistence in its evil ways and humanity will destroy the world. Less known is the fact that at this point we can only be saved by the intervention of an army of goddesses.
So if we want a new world, we have to focus on Flora and her water warriors.
The softness of FLORA will make us marvel about simplicity.
GAIA’s intuition will bring us peace.
The light of AURORA will awaken us.
The colors of IRIS will flood everything with beauty.
The mystery of AURA will fill us with insight.
The revolution of NEMESIS will enchant us.
The profundity of NYX will bring us to internalization.
CHARON’s humility will lead us to contemplation.
— Cited from Jonas Slaats. "The good word of Flora and her Water Warriors". In William Sweetlove & Bart Ramakers, Flora and the Water Warriors, 48, 52–55. © Bart Ramakers & William Sweetlove, 2019.