High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Publications

High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Article

Flemish Film Beyond the Borders of Flanders?

One of the problems with which small film-producing entities such as Flanders struggle is that within a context of limited means it is difficult to produce a sufficient critical mass. Artistic recognition, however, and awards arrived event...

Article

A Sea Change in Ostend

On a visit to the Flemish coastal town of Ostend, Derek Blyth discovers grand architecture, a world-famous soul singer and the perfect shrimp croquette.

Article

Where Rubens Laid His Head to Rest

Looking for exciting places in the Low Countries, British journalist Derek Blyth stumbled upon the castle where baroque painter Rubens spent the last years of his life.

Article

Virtual Dutch

Dutch studies in Britain are not dead or dying. But numbers, and consequently resources, are limited and, if anything, dwindling. Virtual Dutch was devised as at least a partial response to this problem. It is an alliance between the main u...

Series

Moving Verses

Getting young people excited about contemporary Dutch-language poetry. With that goal in mind, Flemish-Dutch cultural institution Ons Erfdeel vzw and Poëziecentrum vzw joined forces. Their collaboration resulted in the video poetry project ...

Article

Unnecessary Words Don’t Exist

An essay in which cultural philosopher Ton Lemaire was bothered by the adoption of English words into Dutch, inspired linguist Marten van der Meulen to respond.

Article

Managing Climate Change. Adopting a Macho or a Modest Approach?

Under the headline ‘Macho Plants’, a Dutch-Flemish gardening magazine recently published an eye-catching article describing ten garden plants which are not only resistant to exceptionally heavy rain but also to long periods of drought. ‘Ma...

Article

Els Moors: everything’s sold or given away

This week's Friday Verses are written by Els Moors, who was appointed National Poet of Belgium from 2018 until 2020. We translated her poem ‘everything’s sold or given away’.

Article

Bring on the Language Police!

Words become outlawed, and people with different opinions soon accuse the other party of engaging in ‘framing’. Are the language police just round the corner?

Article

Long Live the Crisis of Democracy?

Just going by today’s headlines, the end of Western democracy seems imminent. However, is a crisis not the essence of a democracy?

Article

I Am Lonely, Therefore I Exist

The Dutch writer and visual artist Nicole Montagne is searching for 'imaginary lonelinesses' with, among others, Hopper, Spilliaert and the 'unknown girl from the Seine River'.

Article

Young Readers Need New Heroes

The heroes of recent Dutch-language books for children and young adults act in groups, differ from the norm and are no longer all white. That’s a win, according to Professor Yra van Dijk and Lecturer Marie-José Klaver.

Article

In Search of a Language Utopia

‘Conceptual engineering’ tries to improve the way we speak about concepts. But is it possible to ‘improve’ language? And if so, how should we go about it?

Article

A Stranger on His Own Land

Right-wing extremism and Muslim extremism penetrate deeper into society, even into institutions. Meanwhile a much larger problem is overshadowed: inequality.

Article

How Much Colour Can The Flemish Art World Tolerate?

Superdiversity and interculturality have become inevitable facts. An articulate generation with diverse backgrounds is demanding its place. How is the debate conducted in the Flemish cultural sector, and in particular in the performing arts...

Article

This Is How Dutch Farmers Are Saving Water

By 2050, Wadden Island Texel will be one of the driest places in the Netherlands. Local farmers are now combining ancient knowledge with innovative techniques to retain freshwater and prevent soil salinisation.

Article

Striving for a World Without Bars

His experience as a jury member in a criminal trial led writer Peter Vermeersch to delve into alternatives to imprisonment, and to discover a world that was far removed from naïve dreams or bizarre utopias.

Article

Belgium Is Europe in Miniature

Belgium has an interim minority government to deal with the corona crisis. The emergency has exacerbated the division in the country. Will Belgium fall apart, or is it actually a laboratory for Europe?

Article

Rebel with a Cause: Father Damien on Molokai

On 11 October 2009, the Flemish missionary, known as Father Damien, was declared a saint for his extraordinary service in caring for the lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai in the 19th Century.

Article

How the World Views Dutch and Dutch Speakers

If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much. Does that vision correspond with how other people view the inhabitants of the Low Countries and their language? Or is the picture more nuanced?

Article

James Ensor, Rebel For All Times

James Ensor was not just a crazy, angry, solitary painter of masks, he was also an authentic rebel who spent a lifetime using his voice to champion values that still hold true today.

Article

There Is More to the Cow’s Voice Than Just Moo

Dairy cows are social beings that communicate with each other and with humans. However, sociolinguistics has paid little attention to this kind of interaction. Leonie Cornips aims to shed light on this through her language research on cows.

Article

Yes, But. Rembrandt as an Unstable Medium

Rembrandt studies are a nerve-racking field. It is nearly impossible to write a proper paragraph about the artist or his work without stepping on the toes – or kicking the shins, depending on your mood – of a colleague. Part of this is due ...

Article

Farewell to the Serial. About Comic Strips and Graphic Novels

The artistic diversity of comic strips in the Low Countries is greater than ever. Yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to earn a living wage. There is still a market for illustrators. But for the makers of comic strips, the possibilit...

Article

Who Gave the Most Royal Corona Speech?

Many European rulers gave speeches during the corona crisis. How did they infuse their words with power? What meanings did Willem-Alexander’s concerned look and Filip’s stiff facial expression lend to their messages? And who gave the best s...

Article

Tourists, Go Home!

Tourism is increasingly becoming more of a curse than a blessing in Amsterdam, Bruges, Maastricht and numerous other places in the Low Countries.

Article

Oh America, Where Art Thou?

The Low Countries' view of the United States has gradually changed from admiration to sadness and frustration.

Article

Solidarity Is the Highest Form of Culture

The Flemish government has proposed severe cuts in arts funding over the next few years. In 2011, the cultural sector in the Netherlands was forced to make do with a budget cut of about 200 million euro. What can the Flemish artists learn f...

Article

Dagmar Dirkx: A Brilliant Mess

Eighteen young writers have brought artefacts from the Rijksmuseum to life. Dagmar Dirkx looks at the painting 'Monk Meditating near a Ruin by Moonlight' by Frederik Marinus Kruseman.

Article

The Best at Being Alone

Author Daniel Rovers thinks there is something wrong with the way loneliness is often written about.

Article

Antwerp's Expunged Protestant Past

Two Antwerp monks were burned at the stake five hundred years ago because of their Lutheran beliefs. Their deaths remind us of a piece of the faded religious past of the Low Countries.

Article

The Noble Beauty of the Terraced House

No house is more Dutch than the terraced house. Yet this type of architecture has only recently come to be valued as it should. Time to redress the balance.

Article

A Black Lion of Flanders

Roland Gunst – half Flemish, half Congolese – uses installations, performances, film and video to explore the search for his own identity.

Article

#16 - The Fishy History of Dutch Herring

Eating herring is a Dutch tradition. This silvery, slimy fish is even part of their national identity, thanks to a myth about a humble herring fisherman.

Article

The Future of Historical Dutch Is International

International interest in Dutch sources is huge and, thanks to digitalisation, there are more texts available than ever. But human know-how is lagging behind technological progress.

Article

#19 - No One Messes Around With John the Fearless

John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, asserted himself as the dominant power broker in the Low Countries of the late 14th, early 15th century, showing the ever-restless towns what might happen to them should they rebel against his authority.

Article

The Malleable Rembrandt

Dutch art often appears in debates about identity, and this always happens in terms of what is 'own' and 'foreign' to it. Rembrandt in particular turns out to be very 'malleable'.

Article

How Missing Soldiers Regain Their Identity

An exhibition at the In Flanders Fields Museum shows how missing soldiers of the First World War have got their identity back thanks to archaeological and historical research.

Column

The L-Spot

You think you know Flanders and the Netherlands. But take it from us, you haven’t seen anything yet. British journalist Derek Blyth takes you on microadventures to L-Spots, hidden and exciting places in the Low Countries.

Article

The World According to Gerardus

Derek Blyth pays tribute to the man who has shown us the way for more than four hundred years: the Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator.

Article

Don’t Worry, Be Hasselt

On a trip to the capital of the Belgian province of Limburg, Derek Blyth finds comforting food, innovative architecture and 25 places to be happy.

Article

Ode to Mechelen

On a trip to Mechelen, Derek Blyth discovers lost mediaeval rivers, Beethoven’s Flemish roots and the world’s oldest carillon school.

Article

Utrecht Is More Than the Birthplace of a Cute Rabbit

Utrecht is so much more than a pleasant day trip from Amsterdam. Discover its picturesque canals, lively pub culture, the world’s largest bike parking garage and a cute little rabbit that pops up everywhere in town.

Article

Holy Halle!

On a visit to the Flemish city of Halle, Derek Blyth discovers a miraculous statue, a forgotten Flemish artist and an intriguing street art trail.

Article

Moving Socially with Choreographer Mette Ingvartsen

For twenty years, choreographer Mette Ingvartsen has been creating socially and politically engaged performances. The key question she raises in her socially and politically engaged performances is whether we can create a world that revolve...

Article

Sinterklaas Is Comin’ to Town

On a visit to the Flemish city of Sint-Niklaas, Derek Blyth discovers the largest market square in Belgium, the biggest cigar in the world and the greatest atlas ever printed.

Article

Peeling the Onion in Aalst

On a visit to the Flemish city of Aalst, Derek Blyth discovers a Carnival parade that likes to shock, a priest that took on the factory bosses and a utopian library.

Article

From Clara to Bokito: The Wilderness in Our Zoos

Our fascination for and exploitation of wild animals has a long history that reveals major social changes: from prestige projects for medieval monarchs to experiences for the general public.

Article

Sanne Pieters: Milked Out

A still life with cheese, that’s all Sanne Pieters needs to dissect gender roles. ‘I watch you a lot: you and that favourite cow of yours.'

Article

How "Local" Is Local Food?

There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding the concept of ‘local,’ particularly in relation to food.

Article

Mad about Geel

On a trip to Geel, Derek Blyth discovers a murdered Irish saint, a community that cares for strangers, and a mellow city that is simply crazy about reggae.

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