“Guardian” with flame thrower and chain saw
Gabriele von Lutzau: Stewardess on the “Landshut”, today sculptor in the Odenwald/ sculpture for Idstein

A “guard” by Gabriele von Lutzau. A similar sculpture will be placed in the foyer of the new Idstein Health Centre. photo: private

From 22.09.2007

Your material: wood. Your tools: chain saw and flame thrower. The sculptor Gabriele von Lutzau will create a sculpture for the newly built Idstein Helios Clinic. Her maiden name was Gabi Dillmann. And she was a flight attendant on the “Landshut”.

Birgitta Lamparth

It’s already the voice. When she says things like “My motto is: Help yourself, then God will help you” or “I won’t let these people restrict me”. Then it becomes clear that there is one who has already experienced a lot. And survived – with courage that is rarely found.

For “these people”, to whom Gabriele von Lutzau was at the mercy of, were terrorists. For five days in October 1977, they kept the world on fire and caught the passengers of the Lufthansa aircraft “Landshut”, 86 mostly German tourists and five crew members. Including Gabriele Dillmann. The passengers named them “Angels of Mogadishu” because they found support and hope in the then 23-year-old flight attendant.

And angels are also like the central figures she creates in her new, second life as a sculptor. “The bearer of the Federal Cross of Merit calls the towering wooden sculptures, one of which is to be placed in the Idstein Health Centre. Is this a subject that stems from the drama of 30 years ago? “I’m sure it’s connected to the experience,”she says. How much of what happened afterwards in her life. And led to art.

After Mogadishu, she no longer pursued her profession. Although she was “not Eva Herrmann”, she wanted to stay home after the birth of a child. And then there was this pottery class. “I never made a pot, but a woman right away,”she recalls. You often meet this I-do-what-you-do-my-ways when you talk to Gabriele von Lutzau.

Although she grew up in a family in which “art was perceived as completely useless”, she was “immediately banged”when she was taken to an exhibition by colleagues during her time as a flight attendant. And also, when she later studied art in Strasbourg at the beginning of the 1980s, it quickly became clear “that I would be bored if I were a watercolourist. Instead, she becomes a sculptor. And finds in large, massive materials and brute tools the prerequisites for astonishingly filigree, impressive works.

A serious car accident smashed her wrist. The doctors say:”Sculpture is no longer possible. And experience the inner strength of a woman who 30 years ago had to watch her captain being shot dead. And even under threat of their own lives, he turned away from the air pirates “so angrily glittered”that he turned away from them.

That such a woman cannot be said to be “not going” is beyond question. So she’s changing her technique, working with a 35-electric sword today. “The sculptor, who can’t work in her studio in the Odenwald village until after 3 p. m., laughs very effectively, as if out of the hip like John Wayne,” otherwise it makes too much noise. The way she gets to grips with her material already has “something to do with taming, with winning”. This depends on their character, and possibly also on what they experience.

This is how the tree that is still standing in the Idsteiner Wald is tamed. Perhaps he already has a bow around his neck – that’s how Ute Samson identifies suitable oak and beech trees. The former Idstein city council not only founded the “Förderkreis”, which has now led to the construction of the health centre. She has also made contact with Gabriele von Lutzau. By a coincidence that is not one: Ute Samson, who today works as a non-medical practitioner, was also a stewardess in the 70s, knew Gabi Dillmann well. “I flew on the Landshut afterwards, too,”she says. The colleagues lost track of each other.

And 30 years later, in her search for an artist who would be suitable for work at the Helios Clinic, she encounters the works of Gabriele von Lutzau. Her guardians convinced her from the very beginning:”They have something connected to earth and an opening at the same time. I think it’s very nice for a hospital where people will be cured.” Now she looks around for trees that have formed a clash – two main branches of the same shape – which must not be too thin. On November 1st Gabriele von Lutzau picks up the selected tree.

The sculptor was also impressed by the combination of a health centre and a guard. “There are artists who work to show fears. I work differently: I want to counter the fears of freedom and lightness.” Until September 11,2001, the guardians shone in a conciliatory, gentle blue. “Then it was over with fun,”says Gabriele von Lutzau. And he only created works that were blackened in his own ash and fixed with bio-resin varnish.

And when the documentary about the Landshut kidnapping was broadcast on TV, it was clear to her:”Today I have to saw.” The healing that emanates from the Guardians has remained with all the reaction to the horrors that life can hold ready. Gabriele von Lutzau himself:”Making guards is good for me.” She communicates with the material. And with himself. “You have to learn to listen to yourself,”she says. And find your own voice.