For more than 13 years, Ingrid Vandamy (59 years old) has opened her field to creatives. From the beginning, her project has evolved into a garden of experience where different artists communicate with each other and with visitors. “The holistic experience is key here and the art is part of it,” Vandamy says.
In collaboration with Sylvie de Smet, 49, Ingrid Vandamy, who is also president of the umbrella nonprofit organization Handicapart, is preparing her year-round field for openings in July and August. We started when I reached out to a blind artist. He was looking for a space to display his art. I immediately told him I had it and urged him to invite other visually impaired artists as well. I wanted to give them the opportunity to make and display art,” explains Ingrid.
“In Lissewege you also have a sculpting path, through which a target audience who loves art and tranquility comes to Lissewege.”
Later, Zeebrugge Hospital also contacted a psychiatric patient. I heard they were also allowed to express themselves creatively, but these works were exhibited and sold at the hospital. By inviting them to us, others can also see their artwork.”
After a few years, the number of artists in the garden of Ingrid Vandamy increased significantly. Meanwhile, it’s an all-encompassing story that doesn’t count the limitations and you’ll find all the artists mixed together in the field. The focus here is on what people make and connect them through a shared passion, and that is our goal.”
One example is the “art darkroom”. “A blind couple take visitors into a completely dark room. This way they teach visitors how the blind and the visually impaired experience art,” explains Sylvie de Smet.
Other artists regularly visit the many beach cabins in the area. Artists also jump in every day to spend a day getting creative. “Our garden’s name says it all,” Vandami explains. “People need to meet here. Nothing is necessary, everything is allowed. The interaction of everyone from all forms of art, from sculpture to leather making and word art is what makes our story so beautiful.”
Meeting Garden tVaartje works with many volunteers. “We do everything ourselves,” De Smet explains. “On Sundays we sometimes get close to 500 visitors so it takes some work. But everyone here knows we make each other happy by working on this project together.” The association hopes to continue to grow in the coming years, although that does not have to pass too quickly for the initiators.
“We don’t want to be a festival, but I dream of a field full of artists. Think of it as a mix between the Montmartre neighborhood and Parisian Provence. Creative people who delight each other and the visitor in a relaxed environment.”
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