Many an artist has found their inspiration in the light, the sea and the calm of Zeeland. You’ll find their expressions in outdoor sculptures and in paintings and creations in museums. Come and experience what has stirred painters, photographers and artists.
Domburg is probably the best known artists’ village in Zeeland. At the turn of the 20th century artists descended there, making it a real artists’ colony.
Piet Mondriaan and Jan and Charley Toorop were amongst those to be swept away by the unique light above Walcheren. A visit to the Marie Tak van Poortvliet museum will tell you which other artists came here. Or glimpse with your own eyes what exhilarated them so, on the walk ‘In het licht van Toorop en Mondriaan’. The annual Schildersweek in Domburg in May will reveal today’s trends, as expressed by Dutch and foreign painters.
Art in the open air
There are no boundaries to where you can see art in Zeeland. You’ll see the 14 red penguins by artist William Sweetlove long before you reach the town of Breskens. Local artist Johnny Beerense painted the Oostburg water tower, as if it is leaking huge drops of water. Elsewhere the Monumentaal fietsen bike route on Schouwen-Duiveland goes past towers, mills and monuments. Or, while on Walcheren, go to one of the eight very special picnic sites designed by Joke de Witte. Or fill up on art while walking the Koewacht uit de kunst walk.
All over the province, there are artistic routes leading you to both galleries and to a good number of accessible ateliers. In Vlissingen bike routes and walks have been designed to include statues and other sculptures. Over the water, Terneuzen is host to an annual sculpture route. The buzzing Kunstschouw on Schouwen-Duiveland showcases the work of some 200 artists, along a route through 12 villages on the island. The annual Kunstroute Tholen is a jam-packed couple of days of music and art. And then, for two weekends in August the Kunstspoor op Noord-Beveland event opens up all the art works and galleries on the island.
Monumental they are, our historic sculptures, in part artistic but particularly cultural. The statue of Michiel de Ruyter, an admiral, on the boulevard at Vlissingen is one of the best known. At the Watersnoodmuseum in Ouwerkerk, the national flood disaster monument is transfixing, both in tragedy and in the determination that is Zeeland. In Tholen, the ancestral home of the Roosevelt family, the Four Freedoms monument reaffirms the President’s commitments. With similarly poignancy, in the heart and soul of Middelburg there stands the Slavernijmonument on slavery, also ensuring the dark pages of Zeeland’s past be not forgotten.
The pride that Zeeland has in its heritage is well expressed in the densest concentration of museums per person of any Dutch province. Many recall our traditional lives in agriculture, fishing and maritime trade. In the Zeeuws Museum in the old abbey of Middelburg, you’ll see a unique collection of tapestries. In Vlissingen, the muZEEum recalls our maritime days and Michiel de Ruyter. The Watersnoodmuseum in Ouwerkerk occupies concrete caissons once used to repair our dikes. And Groede has an entire heritage street of Flanders in the Vlaemsche Erfgoed museum
In our many galleries, you’ll find inspiration, and perhaps an acquisition to take home. Their products range from the experimental to traditional: who knows, there are still works by Mondriaan available, just as a resplendent piece of maritime art. All there for you.
Art and culture are definitely part of the festivals dimension of our Land-on-Sea. The annual Film by the Sea in September in Vlissingen and Terneuzen has its main theme of books adapted to the medium of film. The late-summer Zeeland Nazomerfestival presents theatre at special outdoor locations. Again in Vlissingen, the Onderstroom festival (meaning ‘undercurrent’) hosts street theatre, open-air art and some exceptional eating and drinking. Another late-summer event is Festival of Zeeland-Flanders which opens up its podium to national and international classical musicians. Sumptuous it is.
Holidays are for books, right? Ideally in a hammock in the garden of your holiday home, or in your beach recliner. Fancy a new book? Try a Zeeland author, such as Vicky Hartman and Hans Warren. They open up the culture of contrasts, as its relative isolation has ebbed in time. A third is Franca Treur whose first Dutch novel ‘Dorsvloer vol Confetti’ (2009) also appeared in Portuguese, and on TV in Dutch in 2014. A lengthy synopsis, in English, by the Dutch Literature Fund is a pithily intense way to hack her messages here: http://www.letterenfonds.nl/en/book/710/confetti-on-the-threshing-floor
A local bookstore could advise you further. Franca’s Flash Fiction shorts from the Dutch quality paper NRC, have been translated into English on the Stockholm Review.