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Contrei Live: art runs thicker than water

09 Jul - 26 Oct 2020

© Intercommunale Leiedal

Regional developer Leiedal, partner of Designregio Kortrijk, sets the stage for Contrei Live, an arts trail on and off the water in the 13 cities and communities of South West Flanders. From 9 July to 26 October, sixteen national and international artists, architects and designers invite people on a meandering trail of artistic discovery throughout the region, to reflect on water in a landscape theatre and to engage into dialogue on the importance of water as an ever more precious commodity.


  • 211 entries
  • 13 communities
  • 16 artistic interventions
  • 3 bicycle loops,
  • 100.000 visitors


In February of 2019, Leiedal made an open call to artists and designers all around, suggesting a number of outstanding places with a clear link to water. Through Kortrijk Design Region, the city of Kortrijk has been part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network since 2017, which accordingly contributed to no less than 211 entries from artists and designers from over 35 countries worldwide. A panel of experts selected a number of them for Leiedal to check their practical, logistic and financial viability. As a result, at least one work of art will be shown in each of the 13 Leiedal communities. The grand total of 16 artistic interventions makes up an intriguing mix of land art, landscape architecture, sound art and kinetic installations. The interventions are tailored to the specifications of their particular site in the landscape or public space, fortifying the aquatic acquaintance with the story of water.


Contrei Live also provides wind at the back for bicycle tourism in South West Flanders, with partners Toerisme Leiestreek and Westtoer helping to open up the arts trail by putting together three bicycle loops. Leiedal would like to motivate communities and other partners to orchestrate events, lectures and guided visits as a side stage to the interventions. Leiedal aims to tempt up to 100,000 visitors to come and admire the works of top artists like Zeli Bauwens, Hans Peter Kuhn, Matthijs la Roi, Landlab, Kevin Trappeniers, Michel Desvigne, Omgeving, Esther Kokmeijer, Niels Albers, Willem Boel, Jan Detavernier, Patrick Ceyssens, Rick Abelen, Zilvinas Stasiulevicius, Marco Barotti and Adrien Tirtiaux.


All locals and visitors near and far are invited to tap into Contrei Live and be marvelled and carried by the region with water guiding the way. A user-friendly mobile website, a free cycling card and (payable) visitors’ guide will pilot you along three cycling loops boasting some delightful deviations and stimulating stops. Students at Howest Digital Arts and Entertainment, meanwhile, have rendered Contrei Live in a game that can be played online. Educational packages will be made for schools. Contrei connects and invites young and old to come and discover their own country.


En route with various partners
As for the organisation and realisation of the arts trail, Leiedal can rely on the joint support of various and complementary partners. Some interventions are co-financed by Europe through the Interreg project DESIGN’IN supporting design methods for public space. Lining up with Kortrijk Design Region, we can go all in for creativity and international appeal. On a supra-local level, Contrei Live can look to considerable back-up, both logistically and financially, by De Vlaamse Waterweg (Flemish waterways). The Province of West Flanders is also on board and provides a strong added value in the field of recreational tourism know-how. The 13 local authorities will be backing the projects chiefly in logistics and communications. Leiedal’s sister organisation zuidwest will be supporting cultural initiatives. True to its strong affinity with arts, Belgian bank Belfius did not hesitate to sponsor Contrei Live.