de Nieuwe opdrachtgevers

les Nouveaux commanditaires

Peter De Graaff – Labeur

Patrons - Aalbeke inhabitants
Curator - Joost Declercq
Aalbeke, Kortrijk, Belgium, 05/2013

The context

In a first meeting, the patrons group investigated what is typical for Aalbeke. It soon became clear that Aalbeke is important as a transit route for many people. An idea that has also been confirmed with the installation of rest areas along the main road of the village (the Moeskroensesteenweg). In order to best reflect this situation, the decision was to intervene in several places in the village centre rather than to opt for a static work of art.

Furthermore, the group decided to tell the story of Aalbeke through the artwork. About working and living in the village, in the past and now. Spectators could learn interesting anecdotes about the village and its inhabitants.

The artwork also had to refer to clay. Aalbeke as clay village.

The commission

Peter de Graaff took all these aspects along with the artwork by presenting it as a walk through Aalbeke. A dozen ceramic tiles (1.5 m²) with drawings are incorporated in the pavement, as resting points in the landscape. 

Each tile tells something about Aalbeke, about old and recent history. Certain stories are familiar to Aalbek residents, others much less. For the attentive viewer, each tile contains multiple layers of information. On one of the scenes you see a boy who is writing. It turns out to be Hugo Claus. The writer stayed for a while in the Aalbeke pension. Below him there is the map of Aalbeke, the street plan with roads, houses and fields. 'We gaan zien. Toch’ (‘We will see. Still.’) is written: the last sentence from his famous book The Sorrow of Belgium.

Technically, making tiles is quite complicated. The artist worked together with the master lithographers and screen printers Willem Moeselaar and Gertjan Forrer from Zaandam and Weesp. He did the ceramic research together with ceramic artist Pieter Kemink from Amsterdam.

Peter De Graaff

After examining the work of many artists in catalogues, it is finally the ceramics of Dutch artist Peter de Graaff that most appealed to the patrons. The artist was then invited to come meet them. He listened with enthusiasm to the multitude of exciting stories and immersed himself in the history of Aalbeke.

A search was made for useful traces from the history of Aalbeke: the fire of the church, the labor of the inhabitants in agriculture or in the textile factories, Aalbeke as a village of passage, the story of the pot factory, of St. Cornelius Parish...


The artwork was inaugurated on May 11, 2013 in the presence of many inhabitants of Aalbeke, the burgomaster and municipal councilors of Kortrijk in the newly restored town centre of Aalbeke. The colorful ceramics have created a superb artistic journey through Aalbeke.