Galerie Sofie Lachaert. Not just a bowl of cherries

If you look up Galerie Sofie Lachaert on google apart from the dozens of entries from design blogs and design events that pop up is one from Trip Advisor, ranking the gallery's small B&B as number 1 of 1 in the village of Tielrode in Belgium. This is hardly surprising as Tielrode is a tiny village around 30 kilometres south west of Antwerp with probably only one B&B but If you are lucky enough to ever visit you will discover that the B&B is like everything in the gallery - totally exquisite in a gentle and unassuming way. Make sure you stay there if you are ever visiting the Antwerp area and while there you will be smitten by some of the most interesting design and and contemporary art objects you will find anywhere. Originally conceived as a space for visiting artists to stay during the installation of exhibitions, the upstairs rooms are now open to the general public. 

 Pieces from Shira Keret's 'Monolith' series of water jet cut Carrara marble objects that are inspired by the slow erosion of stone by water found in nature.

Pieces from Shira Keret's 'Monolith' series of water jet cut Carrara marble objects that are inspired by the slow erosion of stone by water found in nature.

Just why Sofie Lachaert and Luc d'Hanis the joint founders ended up opening a gallery of fine art, craft and design in Tielrode is a question that I won't attempt to answer here but the main thing is that people come from all over the world to visit the gallery and the location allows the couple to work on their own projects as well as exhibit the work of other artists they admire. It seems that in Belgium people in particular but Europeans in general, are prepared to travel for art and so Sofie and Luc's rather remote existence (by international gallery standards) is not an issue. 

 The minimal but warm gallery space produces it's own beautiful  compositions.

The minimal but warm gallery space produces it's own beautiful compositions.

Partially as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Galerie, Sofie and Luc d'Hanis decided to curate an exhibition on bowls of all conceivable types by a group of 40 artists and designers. Importantly, the current exhibition, Not just a bowl of cherries, looks at bowls as both object and as a symbol of what they provide. The ability to hold precious contents such as water and food is a huge part of life but bowls are also a potent symbol sharing - something that is at the centre of Lachaert and d'Hanis' approach to life and art.

 Lut Laleman's bowls and a platter.

Lut Laleman's bowls and a platter.

The exhibition that runs for just another week (until the 25/1/15) includes the work of a large number of silversmiths including Britain's David Clarke, Adi Toch, and the Czech, Vladimir Böhm. It also contains some highly experimental ceramic work by Danish artist Christina Schou Christensen and Anne Marie Laureys.

 The exhibition features a large number of silversmiths including the Czech, Vladimir Böhm (two vessels on the right).

The exhibition features a large number of silversmiths including the Czech, Vladimir Böhm (two vessels on the right).

There is also turned timber bowls stained with a chemical reaction between the tannic acid found in oak and iron by Dutch artist Steven Banken and the turned laminated timber work of Danish artist, Tyge Axel Holm.

 Thalia Maria Georgoulis' 'Pebbles & Spoons' 

Thalia Maria Georgoulis' 'Pebbles & Spoons' 

Whimsical silver spoons combined with stone by Thalia Maria Georgoulis and the elongated spoons of Antje Dienstbir stretch the exhibitions subject matter to include the accoutrements of eating (the spoon is a fundamental implement used in sharing).

 The work of UK silversmith David Clarke (left) is often a mashup of objects - in this case bowls and spoons.

The work of UK silversmith David Clarke (left) is often a mashup of objects - in this case bowls and spoons.

 The light in the gallery is beautifully soft. Works by Anne Marie Laureys (far right) and Shira Keret (far left).

The light in the gallery is beautifully soft. Works by Anne Marie Laureys (far right) and Shira Keret (far left).

If you journey upstairs to the B&B you will witness the same rigour applied to the exhibition in the sparse decoration of the rooms, with their all-white palette and refined selection of furniture and objects. Chairs by Belgian designers Maarten Van Severen and Bram Boo are complimented by other overtly simple designs by Jasper Morrison. A curtain made from paper dress patterns and other restrained but beautifully conceptual ideas make the space far more interesting and appealing than your average minimalist boutique hotel. 

 The heavenly bedroom in the upstairs B&B part of Galerie Sofie Lachaert. 

The heavenly bedroom in the upstairs B&B part of Galerie Sofie Lachaert. 

Not only is there a special admiration for the work of the late Maarten Van Severen but the personal work of Lachaert and d'Hanis is represented by the same gallery that now represents Van Severen's son (Muller Van Severen), The Antwerp based Valerie Traan shares a similar aesthetic to Galerie Sofie Lachaert but with less of an emphasis one-off craft pieces and more on limited edition designs.

 The rooms of the B&B are carefully curated with Belgian design pieces such as the Maarten Van Severen (left) and Bram Boo pieces shown here. 

The rooms of the B&B are carefully curated with Belgian design pieces such as the Maarten Van Severen (left) and Bram Boo pieces shown here. 

The overall feeling of a visit to Galerie Sofie Lachaert is one of peaceful contemplation. The works are thought provoking, beautifully crafted and displayed with immense sensitivity by Lachaert and d'Hanis. Their genuine belief in the role of art and design in everyday life is evident by the way the couple handle the objects and talk about both the artists they represent and their own work. The passion is there for anyone to see.

 The simple signage and red brick facade of Galerie Sofie Lachaert gives nothing away. 

The simple signage and red brick facade of Galerie Sofie Lachaert gives nothing away. 

The full list of artists on show at Not just a bowl of cherries in addition to those already mentioned are:

Tomer Botner & Oded Webman, Rudolph Bott, Maike Dahl, Jean-Francois D'Or, Sotis Filippides, Formafantasma, gt2P, Ruth Gurvich, Yasuki Hiramatsu, Astrid Keller, Jan Kersschot, Pieteke Korte, Frans Ottink, Hans- Henning Pedersen, Klaar Prims, Lucille Sciallano, Ja-kyung Shin, Simone Ten Hompel, Margot Thyssen, Keith Tyssen, Unfold & Joris Van de Moortel, Jeroen Van Vaerenbergh, Hozan Zangana and of course,  Sofie Lachaert and Luc d'Hanis.

For more on Galerie Sofie Lachaert please click here.

The work of Sofie Lachaert and Luc d'Hanis is represented by Valerie Traan in Antwerp.