Festival puts local artists and artisans on show in Tervuren

Summary

A Tervuren tour of local art offers aspiring and established artists a chance to show their work and exchange ideas with other artists

Arts tour

It’s already home to the quirky jazz fountain where supersized statues of music-playing African animals spew water in the middle of a busy roundabout. Then there’s the sculpture of a monkey, staring pensively at passers-by in a street as he paints a portrait.

Not to mention the School of Tervuren, a group of landscape artists who gathered together in the city in the latter part of the 19th-century. But there’s more to come.  

On Ascension weekend, the Flemish Brabant town just outside of Brussels will exhibit the works of about 80 artists in a series of venues across the town – from cafes, ateliers and homes to Tervuren’s recently built cultural centre De Warandepoort. There, one piece from every participating artist will be displayed in a grand exhibition.

“We have a very artistic history,” explains Jan Trappeniers, city councillor for culture. “It has always been a very cultural environment. When you approach the centre of Tervuren, you see the fountain. Then there are various artworks on the marketplace and also in the park where we had, of course, the School of Tervuren.”

Launchpad

The Artistentoer festival, celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, has two chief goals: bringing in tourists to boost the local economy and giving local artists, including up-and-comers, a platform to exhibit their work, find potential buyers and have a chance to meet other artists.

“It’s a good way to get exposure,” says photographer Rikke Dakin, whose work is reminiscent of the School of Tervuren, with dreamy, ethereal images of its forest avenues. “It’s a comfortable way to test the water. I’m not an established artist. My aim at the moment is to get people to see my photos.”

With the commune paying for the promotion of the four-day event, the costs are low for artists. “I’m trying to establish myself as a landscape photographer, and this is a readymade platform to plug into,” says Dakin, adding that she hopes to gain some artistic confidence, more followers on social media and Flickr, and perhaps some sales.

I don’t try to make them all in a uniform style and colour but to allow them to have some character

- Ceramics artist Sigrid Sandker

Networking with other artists is also an appeal. “Artists are very lonesome people in a way. You’re alone in a forest waiting for a wild boar to jump out of a hole,” says Dakin.

Even for the more established, like ceramics artist Sigrid Sandker, who has exhibited previously at Artistentoer and runs Het Kleine Atelier, a workshop for children in the centre of Tervuren, the festival has much to offer from that point of view. “It’s a chance to learn how to talk about your art and to say what you are doing and how you are doing it. The networking is important.”

Her ceramics are influenced by Japanese style, where imperfections are what makes a piece unique, and from the several years she spent living in Guyana. Her work is the result of a process of throwing and deforming pieces. “I don’t try to make them all in a uniform style and colour but to allow them to have some character,” she explains.

But this year, there will be more to her exhibition than her own work. She will also include some of the many creations made by the children who have followed her workshops. “You can see what children are capable of with a bit of guidance,” she says. “If you explain concepts like space and background, they understand them. Then they give their piece a background and it looks so different.”

25-28 May, across Tervuren