Today begins Axel Vervoordt's annual Winter Exhibition, or open house, which runs Friday through Sunday, this weekend and next. This is the first in a series of posts related to Axel Vervoordt that I will publish over the next ten days of the Winter Exhibition. I am giving readers and bloggers the chance to win a copy of 'Axel Vervoordt: Timeless Interiors' by Armelle Baron (Author) and Christian Sarramon (photographer). Contest details appear at the end of this post. A description of the open house (below) comes from axel-vervoordt.com:----------
The castle of ‘s-Gravenwezel, the private home of Axel and May Vervoordt, is like a permanently changing exhibition of wonderful furniture and objets d’art, from various periods and styles. During these two weekends, it is possible to visit all of the 50 rooms from the castle and its outbuildings, each of them different in ambiance and character. The post-industrial “Kanaal” with its 19th century red-brick brew houses and 20th century concrete silos display the pieces from the Axel Vervoordt Home Collection together with contemporary photography, unique archaeological pieces and some rare 20th century design furniture. Castle and Kanaal: Friday-Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. till 7 p.m. Entrance at the castle: 10 euro Free entrance at “Kanaal”
While living in Belgium on a temporary assignment, I attended the open house at the castle two weekends in a row in 2007. I had never been to the Antwerp area, and it seemed as though my GPS was not exactly sure how to reach the castle. After righting a couple of wrong turns I passed a sign for the village of -s-Gravenwezel and found myself on a narrow road through a forest. I soon came upon a clearing that revealed the shapes and colors and spires that I already knew from the well worn pages of my favorite books at home, 'Axel Vervoordt: Story of a Style' and 'Axel Vevoordt: Timeless Interiors'.
Driving slowly up the tree-lined drive, I was directed to park in a field that seem to have a high concentration of Ranger Rovers. As I walked back from my car toward the castle entrance, I noticed small barn or run-in shed for horses near the back of the parking field, and recalled reading that Axel said rides every morning. Moments later, as I walked past the towering gates I could hear water flowing through the moat that encircles the castle. Looking across and seeing the castle in full view, I recalled the first time I saw a reference to it in the magazine article that introduced me to Axel Vervoordt some years before, and prepared to take in what I was about to behold.
I stepped onto a cobblestone drive that led through a small corridor where I was directed to the entrance in the outer building. The first room contained a simple desk, with several AV staffers standing behind it chatting with each other and some visitors. One of them gave me a ticket in exchange for the ten euros admission, and I took the few steps down to the reception area (above) where I felt the warmth of a slow burning oak fire. The room felt eerily familiar, as I had seen it in photographs a hundred times. I slowly made my way through the first series of rooms, pausing to take in every detail.
This work room (above) had many "manquettes", some on the bookshelf and table top, others hanging on the walls. These miniature models of various components of buildings, mostly roof lines and spiral staircases, have for centuries been made by apprentice carpenters as a sort of final exam. Books, blueprints, and other paper artifacts from Axel Vervoordt were for sale in this room, and I purchased my copy of 'Artempo', the catalog from his first Venice exhibition, here.
The majority of the rooms had fireplaces, and every one of them glowed with the warmth and aroma of burning wood. Each room was staffed by at least one Axel Vervoordt employee who kept an eye on the fire and answered questions about any of the objets d'art or furnishings in the room. Much of each room's content was for sale, the castle serving the dual role of home and showroom for the Vervoordts. With her inventory clipboard in hand, the staffer in this pine room (above) was happy to discuss the details of the room's construction, revealing for me its hidden compartments and doors.
This kitchen (above), which normally serves as a staff lunch room, was set up with cider, coffee and wine to wash down scones or cookies arranged on silver trays.
I sat on a long bench in the Orangerie having a glass of wine before walking out into the courtyard of the U-shaped outer building to follow the wide cobblestone path to main house, its windows aglow in the dim light of this Belgian winter afternoon.
I will post recollections of touring the main house in subsequent posts over the course of the open house dates. In the meantime, you can let Mr. Vervoordt himself show you around a room or two in this video from Belgian television (below), the last of the two part series that began in this post on Monday, courtesy of YouTube.com.
Win 'Timeless Interiors' Contest
I created this blog a year ago with almost no experience as blog reader, much less, blogger, and gave up after two posts. At the time of this writing, the Garvinweasel blog has only been re-activated for about ten days and I have already met so many great people here. It really started up again with the Velvet & Linen Brickmaker's Table contest. I have discovered many new sources of information and inspiration, and I'm making new friends in the process. To celebrate the re-birth of the Garvinweasel blog, and to say 'thank you' to everyone following or linking to it, I will give away a copy of 'Axel Vervoordt: Timeless Interiors" from Amazon.com. Here's how to enter:
- If you have a blog, just add a link to Garvinweasel on your blog list. If you'd like to do a post to help promote the contest, even better, but not required for entry.
- If you are a reader, just sign up to follow Garvinweasel using Google FriendConnect
After doing one of the above, leave a comment here letting me know and you will have become a contestant. If you are already following, or already have a link to Garvinweasel on your blog, please leave a comment here along with my new friends so that I have a complete list for of all entrants in one place. The contest entry period will close at 6:00 PM Central Standard Time next Sunday evening, December 5, 2009. Later that night I will put all verified entries into a large hurricane glass (with candle removed) and ask Ms. XVI to shuffle them around and draw one name. I plan to take pictures for the post announcing the winner on Monday morning, December 6.
* Please note that in order to win, you must live in a country that Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk ships to directly. Delivery times are outside of my control, but if you are in the US or Canada you should have it in time for Christmas if you would like it for a gift to give. Outside the U.S or Canada, the winner would be responsible for any applicable duties and taxes. If other contest rules need to apply, I will post them as soon as I am aware of any need to revise. Best of luck!