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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.