Nestled in the heart of Ghent's vibrant multicultural neighborhood lies "de Koer" – a place pulsating with the spirit of rejuvenation and sustainability. My journey as an artist, volunteer, and resident at de Koer was a transformative odyssey into the realm of colors found within forgotten and discarded materials.
Having witnessed the dilapidated building's restoration from its initial state and embracing the ethos of ecological responsibility at de Koer, I embarked on a mission to extract colors from the disregarded remnants. This urban setting became my canvas, with old bricks, broken plant pots, found marble, and even charcoal from the bread oven serving as my palette.
Through meticulous experimentation, I successfully crafted water and oil paints, printing ink, and a spectrum of colored crayons from these unexpected materials. Additionally, I created wall paint from old bricks, adorning the restored hallways with hues born from the essence of de Koer itself.
But my residency was more than personal exploration. Every Thursday afternoon, the 'paint studio' welcomed curious minds eager to uncover the process of abstracting color from discarded materials. Together, we delved into creating makeup from bricks, paint from coral, dying fabric, and producing charcoal ink and paint from reclaimed makeup.
Central to my mission was to inspire others to reconsider conventional approaches to art-making. I aimed to encourage a deeper understanding of the effort and time invested in crafting our own pigments, diverting attention from the convenience of store-bought paints. Ultimately, I compiled a catalog showcasing the diverse colors unearthed, printed cards, boxes of crayons, and artworks solely crafted from de Koer's pigments.
During open studio days, collaboration with art educators intrigued by establishing their material studios in schools provided a platform to share experiences and insights. Reflecting on the most rewarding aspect, I find fulfillment in knowing that my color investigation has sparked inspiration, encouraging others to adopt unconventional methods or view materials through a different lens.
I am deeply grateful to de Koer for providing not just the space, time, and resources for this residency but for fostering a vision aligned with ecological sustainability and creative exploration. In working within de Koer's ethos, I aimed to expand boundaries, explore uncharted territories, and reignite the spirit of playfulness that defines this space.
With the box of crayons, I aimed to encapsulate de Koer's essence as a playground – a space where limitations dissolve, and creativity knows no bounds. Looking back, I believe I have succeeded in nurturing a perspective that embraces materials with unbridled curiosity, much like a child, with no confines or preconceived notions.
This residency has been a celebration of colors, creativity, and a testament to the transformative power of reimagining the overlooked. As I bid adieu to de Koer, I carry with me not just pigments and artwork but a legacy of inspiration, hoping to sow the seeds of unconventional creativity wherever my journey takes me next.
copyright © Karolien Soete