‘I translate Ostend’s absurdities into my artwork’

In Ostend, more than fifty participants open their studios. In Villa Von Trap, for example, you can discover the cheerful ceramics made by Loriene Lemmens. Two years ago, Loriene Lemmens graduated as a graphic designer and moved from Ghent to Ostend. Now, Lemmens is Villa Von Trap's lady of the house. The grey frontage doesn't give it away, but on the inside the building is a true Art Deco gem with leaded windows and, oh yes, an impressive stair hall.

Loriene Lemmens: “I came to Ostend in 2021 but I'm originally from Flemish Brabant. My accent immediately gives away that I'm not a local. Plat d’Ostende, the name under which I create my ceramics collection, is actually my integration project.

This city is incredibly inspirational to me. There's something frivolous in the air. There is a fascinating friction between the tourism industry and daily life here. Tourist traps such as the fish stalls around the train station are just one example. Local residents don't ever buy their fish from those stalls, it's mainly moulded surimi anyway. And on top, the place is terrorised by seagulls. Yet, the fish sells like hot cakes to the tourists. It's like a side-show at the fair. I translate these absurdities into my artwork. Currently, I'm designing a vase in which seagulls play the leading part.

Also, you cannot think of Ostend without thinking of its hospitality industry. There's an authentic, exuberant gastronomy: shrimp croquettes, mussels, sole, etc. They all end up in my work.”

In the collection: life buoys for serving mini-tomates-crevettes, little shrimps, a mussel pot (with a nod towards Broodthaers, of course), an oyster shell as perfume diffuser, trays for serving seashells and so on and so forth. “I always try to give my art a summer beach feeling. The colourations in my cutlery, for example, are inspired by the beach huts, the awnings, the table-cloths, the windbreaks. It's still quite possible, though, that one day I'll make a collection about the Black Forest, with sausages and such (laughs).”

Loriene Lemmens
Loriene Lemmens

There is a fascinating friction between the tourism industry and daily life. 

Obviously, Ostend's artistic past, with local celebrities such as Ensor and Spilliaert, are a major part of the city’s attractions for Lemmens. “A work like ‘De oestereetster’ (The Oyster Eater) from James Ensor, exhibited in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, is phenomenal. You can almost taste the oysters by looking at the painting.”

Lemmens hasn’t been active as a ceramist for very long. “I actually studied graphic design and I work as a designer, but I needed an extra outlet. Ceramics has always fascinated me so I took a course with ZandZand in O.666, where Catherine Lovatt teaches. I was immediately sold. Producing ceramics is a very meditative activity and has a positive effect on extraverts like me. Clay requires a steep learning curve, but it's forgiving too. If something goes wrong during the turning, you can simply remove the clay and start over.

I mostly do the turning during weekends, next to and in between my job and my freelance graphic work. I hope to make more time soon for turning. Because, with some music in the background, it’s in my studio that I am able to relax. Barry White is my favourite! Such sensual music. Sadly, I can't get my boyfriend to listen to it with me, to create our own little romantic Ghost-moment (laughs).”

What does Loriene expect from Atelier in beeld? “It'll be my first time showing my studio, though last year we participated in an art route organised by Mu.Zee. So many visitors came by to admire Herman Bellaert's diptych in the stair hall. That encouraged me to participate in Atelier in beeld: opening your doors to the public is a fun and accessible way to meet new people. Above all, I hope that many local residents will come have a look! It'd be wonderful if they would somehow feel a personal connection with my artwork. And I might be turning some shrimps on the spot.”

Discover all studios in Ostend and plan your route through the city via www.atelierinbeeld.be

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