‘A mine has turned into this!’ Tim Burton is at home in Genk


The world-famous film director Tim Burton was in Genk this week to talk to journalists about the exhibition at C-Mine dedicated to his oeuvre

The perfect venue

Tim Burton, the American director of such distinctive films as Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Alice in Wonderland, was in Genk on Friday to talk to journalists about the exhibition The World of Tim Burton. The exhibition is at C-Mine, the site that Burton himself chose.

C-Mine is a former coal mine transformed into an event centre and hub for the creative industries. It is a protected historical site with much of the industrial infrastructure intact. “In the old days, when you said you were going to go work in the mine, it had a different feeling than it does now,” he joked. “A mine has turned into this! The towers and everything are so sculptural, it’s so beautiful. And it’s so great that it wasn’t torn down, that’s the thing to me is that it was turned in to something so beautiful.”

It’s not the first time Burton has been in Belgium for work; the empty Torenhof Castle in Brasschaat, Antwerp province, stood in as the title character of his last movie, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. He was on site with cast and crew for six weeks in 2015.

The World of Tim Burton premiered at the MoMA in New York in 2009 and has travelled to four international cities over the last nine years before landing in Genk last month. Curators who dreamed up the idea of putting the directors archives on view conducted what Burton calls “an archaeological dig” through “drawers and boxes and closets,” unearthing “stuff I didn’t even remember that I had.”

When he first saw the exhibition in New York, he says it “was the most surreal experience I’ve ever had. I’ve never made drawings to ever show to anybody, you know, I just did them for myself or for projects. They created this sort of scenario in the way that it’s presented.”

The exhibition includes hundreds of Burton’s drawings and paintings, which he started creating when he was a teenager and in which you can find the beginnings of all the characters he eventually put on film, whether in live action or animation. It also includes puppets used in his stop-motion animations such as Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie and a number of his short films.

After seeing the exhibition, don’t hesitate to visit the Burton Café for the Willy Wonka Waffle Factory or Burton Lane Cinema Snacks.

Until 28 November, C-Mine, Evence Coppéelaan 91, Genk