When Tom and I still lived in the Netherlands we often visited Belgium. When we were young we were attracted by the cafes and the amazing variety of Belgian beers as much as by the rich history.
As we live in Spain now, we can’t go that often and have to plan a visit to see art in Belgium, yet 2024 will be a time to go. The main reason is the Triennale Beaufort but our visit will also include the Verbeke Foundation and probably Bruges.
Table of Contents
Sculptures on the coast
The first Beaufort sculpture exhibition was organised in 2003. This year’s event is the 8th one. I am not sure how many of those we saw. Less than we wanted, that’s certain.
Some of the statues stay on their site once the event is over, so each time we were also able to see a couple of the former contributions. On Wikipedia is a list of the sculptures that were bought. Unfortunately only in Dutch and French, but you’ll get a good overview.
Art that makes you think
Depending on the theme and the curator, the emphasis of the event is different every time. The sea theme is the overarching idea, sometimes with an emphasis on materials or technology and other times more socially critical.
Slow travel at your ease
A tram track runs along the entire Belgian coast. Ideal for visiting Beaufort locations without the hassle of parking. Day tickets are available.
Another good way to travel between locations with ease is to use a bicycle. Apart from occasional low dunes, the coast is flat, so cycling does not require much effort (unless there is a storm of course).
Verbeke Foundation near the Dutch border
The Verbeke Foundation in Belgium has been on my list of favourite museums and galleries for some time now. What an exceptional and surprising location.
It starts when you drive up. What is it: a factory, a transhipment point, or a greenhouse? It is obvious that we are not far from the port of Antwerp. During our visit in 2012, ‘port-like’ things could also be seen in the rest of the entourage, such as a life raft and a lookout post.
Love for remarkable things
I really liked the mix of old and new, which in my opinion always works well. Old containers, rusted materials and opposite walls consisting of modern mesh with stones.
It is not always easy art that you get to see. Take, for example, the cow carcasses that hung prominently in the centre of the room in 2012. And the exhibition of insects and spider webs made me shudder.
A striking amount of the art had a relationship with laboratories, literally very investigative.
The Verbeke outdoor area is very reminiscent of Insel Hombroich, although the scale is smaller here. It also looks a bit like the Kröller-Muller Museum because of the combination of an indoor museum and a large sculpture garden.
There are regularly changing exhibitions, so a visit is well worth it. In addition, this is an initiative to support. It takes quite a bit of courage and perseverance to build and maintain such a gallery.
Lots of art in Belgium
Apart from the obvious tourist places like Bruges and Brussels, there is more in Belgium worth a visit. A project, for instance, we loved to see is Le Grand Hornu. This is a former mining complex that is rebuilt into a museum slash community centre. Very interesting place.
Some dates and addresses
- Beaufort 2024, Coast of Belgium, 27-03-2024 / 03-11-2024
- Antwerp and Ostend: Ensor 2024, special tribute;
- Mu.ZEE, Romestraat 11, Ostend;
- Bruges: Triennale – Spaces of Possibility 13-04-2024 / 01-09-2024;
- KMSKA, Leopold de Waelplaats 1, Antwerp: Ensor – Wildest Dreams 28-09-2024 / 18-01-2024;
- Le Grand Hornu, Rue Sainte-Louise 82, Boussu
Have you visited Belgium? What did you like most? Tell me in the comment box below.