All group visits in S.M.A.K. were cancelled due to COVID-19 until the end of June 2020, so the guides were also out of work. Though we don't forget them: they remain born and fascinating storytellers, whether in the museum hall or this way.
A sweet memory
"Van Eyck! Van Eyck! Ghent is screaming Van Eyck from the rooftops. Meanwhile the intimate and poetic Charbel-joseph H. Boutros exhibition is opening its doors. He reveals the invisible and captures the intangible. Dreaming, his sleep, a love letter, he baptises them in the wax of sacred candles. We can only imagine what could be read into this and where the dreams might lead. A square metre of soil from Iran is given a new home, liberated from war and violence. At the foot of the mountains, a man reads aloud in a dead language, and for such a long time that the night swallows the words in his book.
I am on a mission to find votive candles! In St. Nicholas’ Church I’m welcomed warmly and offered a tour of the building. I have the chance to peek at the De Bruycker etchings; and I am told about the various alterations that have been made to and around the church, and about the memorial plaques or dedications. When I enquire about votive candle stubs, I am given the priest’s phone number. In St. Bavo’s Cathedral these have just been collected by the candle supplier, but I’m welcome to come back another day. St. Peter’s Abbey gives me a large box full of stubs. Sweaty but satisfied with my quest, I drop it off at S.M.A.K.. A few days later, I return to Saint Bavo’s, because it is here that the link with Jan van Eyck lies, and I am given a well-filled box of candles that have hardly been burned.
At March’s ART MATINEE (every first Sunday of the month) we explored the Boutros exhibition. Children genuinely connect with his work and are quick to play with his language in their imagination. They fizz with questions, stories and ideas. After visiting the museum, it was time for us to roll up our own sleeves. We fashioned dreamcatchers from old clothes (one participant even used an entire pair of summer trousers!). We lay down to dream in a made-up bed with the dreamcatchers above our heads and recorded our reveries in the wax from the votive candles from St. Bavo’s. We used it to capture and register the light falling on stones. And soon secrets were written down too, carefully folded up and sealed. We were even able to enshrine an ancient Chinese poem in the votive wax.
A sweet memory.
You will be most welcome at an Art Matinee as soon as they are possible again!"
We hope to be able to allow group visits again from 1 July 2020, but this is subject to what the National Security Council will decide. Through this link you will find all the information.