Kortrijk seeks new homes for 27 sculptures stuck in storage

The city in West Flanders is asking citizens where they should place statues and sculptures to get them back into the public eye
Set them free
Kortrijk has invited its residents to suggest new homes for 27 statues currently hidden from view in the region’s heritage depot. Any location in the city or its suburbs is eligible, as long as it is accessible to the public and reasonably secure.

“It is a shame to keep art in storage,” said Axel Ronse, Kortrijk’s city councillor for culture. “We want to give it back to the community and are asking residents to give us their thoughts.”

The statues selected for the Beeld in Jouw Buurt project come in all shapes and sizes, in styles from abstract through to strictly figurative. The smallest is a 34 centimetre-high stylised representation of a bird, in bronze, by Jan Van de Kerckhove. The largest is a two metre-tall plaster model of St John of Nepomuk, whose stone twin currently stands on the city’s Broel Bridge.

Minne for the asking

“The Muse” by Paul Van Rafelghem is also pretty imposing, a life-sized fragmented female nude made of lead and zinc. The oldest statue looking for a home is “Melancholie”, a small bronze from 1898 by Brussels artist Henri Boncquet. The most recent is 1997’s “Naar de toekomst” (To the Future) by Inge Dewilde, the only woman artist represented.

The most sought after statue is likely to be “Kneeling Youth”, a supple bronze by the symbolist sculptor George Minne, and one of his signature themes. He recently shared a retrospective with Auguste Rodin and Constant Meunier at Museum M in Leuven.

The other big name present is Octave Landuyt, although the number of people keen to offer a home to a ceramic head half-a-metre across, with matching hands, might be more limited.

Everything is possible, as long as the works can be viewed by passers-by

- City councillor Axel Ronse

Anyone can suggest a site for one of the 27 statues, although the owner of the proposed location should also be involved. Options proposed by the city include companies with space to spare, shopkeepers who think an item might fit in their window, or even householders who want to brighten up their front garden.

“Everything is possible, as long as the works can be viewed by passers-by,” said the city in a statement. Some of the works come with conditions attached, either because the material they are made of means they have to be displayed indoors, or because a degree of extra security is required.

People volunteering to take on a sculpture can also specify the period involved, although the intention is that the works should remain in the same place for at least a few years. The 27 contenders can be seen online, and proposals can be submitted up to 14 February.

Photo: Three candidate statues for public places in Kortrijk are, left to right, “Gepantserd wezen” (Armoured Creature) by Gerard Holmens; Nepomucenus, thought to be by Koos Van

Kortrijk seeks new homes for 27 sculptures stuck in storage