History Files





'Les Ancêtres' Land Art

by William Willems

At the end of February 2021, 'Les Ancêtres' ('The Ancestors') land art presentation was unveiled in the Provincial Domain De Kemmelberg, along the Kemmelberg hiking route, by Jean-Louis Muller, a landscape artist and independent willow weaver from Blankenberge (West Flanders).

This artwork tells the story of the rich history of the Kemmelberg. It will remain on site until March 2022.

The project has the support of Cupido, part of the European Interreg North Sea region programme, which supports the development of new business opportunities within the cultural heritage sector in countries around the North Sea.

Land art megalith presentation
Photo © Philippe Vercoutter

Land art megalith presentation.

The artwork was created by dynamically weaving highly flexible willow twigs, which people have been processing for centuries to weave into baskets or to use as a binding agent for fences and grids, or as fascine mattresses in the construction of dikes.

The choice of the willow as the basic material for the artwork is due to the fact that the material plays a prominent role in mythology, magic, and folklore in many cultures, such as the tradition of burning a straw doll (which actually consists of a mixture of straw and hay) to dislodge the winter and allow in the spring.

Here it becomes an accessible work of art that once again visualises the area's past and the ancestors of today's inhabitants, and which is tangibly displayed with the unique decor of the Kemmelberg, a place which provided a safe abode for millennia of hunter-gatherers and farmers, plus their Celtic overlords of some centuries.

The construction is made up of various individual elements which serve to form the whole. Together with students of Vives University of Applied Sciences, seven willow structures in wickerwork have been realised which symbolise monolithic structures (megaliths or standing stones).

Depiction of linch-pins in the foreground
Photo © Philippe Vercoutter

Depiction of linch-pins in the foreground.

In addition, there are also two solitary pin-like willow structures: these are the artistic interpretation of the iron / bronze linch-pin of the wheel of a Celtic ceremonial chariot, once found on the Kemmelberg.

This pin is provided with a decorative crescent-shaped bronze plate with a repetitive image of three times three crescents.

Linch-pin from a Celtic ceremonial chariot
Photo © Jean-Luc Putman

Linch-pin from a Celtic ceremonial chariot.

From the terraces of Hostellerie Kemmelberg which is situated on the top of the hill, one has a very nice view of the French-Flemish plain in general and this work of art in particular.

Kemmelberg sunset scenery
Photo © Philippe Vercoutter

Sunset scenery.

A walk along the artwork can also be perfectly combined with a visit to the 'Belvédère' viewing tower, which is part of the Horizon 2025 project for the province of West Flanders.

Moonset over the Kemmelberg megaliths
Photo © Philippe Vercoutter

Moonset over the megaliths.



Text copyright © Archeo Kemmelberg. An original feature for the History Files: Kemmelberg.