5 x Maud Bekaert's favourites in Bruges
Maud Bekaert is a letter sculptor and calligraphy artist. She started her atelier in Bruges in 1994, where she hand-designs letters, setting them in natural stone with hammer and chisel, while continuously looking for new, sophisticated techniques to immortalize words and sentences. Maud works on commission, but she also makes free work that has been exhibited from Japan to Watou. She was the first letter sculptor to receive the 'Handmade in Bruges' label.
1) De Republiek
De Republiek brings Bruges’ locals, tourists and creative spirits together. Here you’ll find an arthouse cinema, a grand-café, one of the biggest and cosiest terraces in Bruges and some inspiring creative hubs like Handmade, Turbo and The Box, all under one roof. It’s a place I love to visit, and one that fills me with great pride as a maker. I can’t imagine Bruges without it: an inspiring place where young and old can share a drink. And last but not least, they serve delicious cocktails and yummy vegetarian dishes.
This small jazz bar just outside of the city centre is frequented by artists coming from their performance in the nearby concert hall of Bruges. Owners Peter & Joeri also organise their own monthly concerts in this cosy pub. Best to book a table in advance on weekend nights, as the café is very popular among Bruges locals, as are their homemade spaghetti and pasta ‘Parazzar’. The interior is reminiscent of your grandmother’s living room, but with better tunes. Sometimes these tunes make room for some poetry, something only a place like Parazzar could get away with. And after a roaring round of applause, the music picks up right where it left off.
3) De Reyghere
In a beautiful building on the market square of Bruges Thomas Barbier is upholding a tradition of five generations of booksellers. He’s doing it in his own, fresh way. The shop I used to visit with my father as a child still looks the same, and you can still find an amazing collection of books there, but Thomas has really brought his father’s store into the 21st century. Offering a wide range of readings, events and book launches, Barbier has become ubiquitous to Bruges’ cultural scene. The adjacent building houses a travel bookstore with a great selection of travel guides from all over the world.
When I close the door of my atelier behind me and venture off into the city, I like to visit the inspiring shop of interior architect Anne Janssens. Set in an authentic little house renovated by Anne, the beautiful shop lies in the shadow of the Sint-Jacobs church. Anne loves contrast, which shows in the selection of goods on display in her shop. Carpets and plaids in natural warm materials, sleek design furniture, sheepskin rugs, authentic ethnic objects and contemporary jewellery… An ever-changing interior that always looks like a place I’d want to live in.
5) Huis Van Loocke
Huis Van Loocke, a shop specializing in artist’s materials, is my toystore. Brushes, pencils, paint, paper, varnish, sketchbooks, model materials… I try not to come here too often because as soon as I walk in the door I feel like I need everything they sell. I could browse around for hours, while the owner’s chihuahua carefully watches me from her spot on the counter. I love the smell of paint, paper and varnish that hangs there and the exquisite urge to test that brand new pencil. The store has been open since 1944, so it has become a go-to place for artists and artisans in the city. I often run into fellow makers and stop for a little chat.
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The 500 Hidden Secrets of Bruges reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Bruges' best-kept secrets.
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