Here comes the Glasgow summer, eager flip-flops and short shorts are already beginning to appear on the streets, pale limbs raring to lie on dusty tartan rugs and soak in some well-earned rays. An early April wander through Kelvingrove on a sunny afternoon saw those already happy to dampen their bums on the soggy grass. Bees were out buzzing, skaters were out skating, but unfortunately police cars were out roaming. Itís the inevitable signal to many that its time to start planning some European escapades to pastures new, where the subtle balance can be found between culture and venue which the Brits can then invade and knock askew. It's a trip I have often encouraged after spending the last ten years of my life living in Brussels, Belgium, which pays host to music festival greats such as Pukkelpop, Werchter, Ieperfest and I Love Techno. So for those heading in that direction who want to get a real glimpse of what Brussels culture has to offer I have one serious recommendation to make.
In 1997, the Urban Development Department of Brussels decided to take a derelict space in the outskirts of the city, one in need of positive and profitable renovation, and turned it into the aptly named Recyclart. It was previously a train station and is now a bustling hub that continues to blends social, musical and artistic events that bring people from all over the world together to divulge and enjoy their passion for all things Social and all things Art, an atmosphere that is encapsulated by their gospel.
Placed in an area unintimidating to those it wishes to support and get involved Recyclart supplies youths with a rooftop skate park and walls donned with paint that they readily supply. The bar/venue/gallery/kitchen/conference hall/workshop prides itself in its ability to maintain and entertain to the benefit of the surrounding community. The venue itself has housed launching performances by the likes of Justice, Animal Collective, Amen Ra, Efterkland, Be Your Own Pet, Skream, Benga, Crookers, the list goes on. Gigs of whatever genre take on a relaxed atmosphere, with good weather often moving the stage outside and no usual barrier gap enforced between the audience and the performers. Security will stand calmly by as revellers dance harmlessly on stage, only flinching if someone disappears below the crowd and taking action if they decide not to surface again. When the music events subside the daytime Recyclart opens its doors, inviting anyone with existing skills or the want to learn to join carpentry classes, cookery lessons, political conferences and educational programmes in a variety of areas.
A resident construction team 'REALISATIONS FABRIK' run projects to create sustainable furniture and sculptures for the surrounding public space and the affiliated cafè-bistro, following designs which are contributed and approved by the local community. There has been a recent alliance with the 'Petit Chateu' (Little Castle) project, a 25-year-old institution that aims to welcome, accommodate and prepare refugees arriving in Brussels. The latest photography exhibition was a minimal and effective point-and-shoot with the aim to expose and give testimony to what remains so hidden in the big city.
In October this year the venue hopes to exhibit 'Reporter-Sem-Beiras' (Reporter-without-boundaries). Photographer Annelies Vaneycken, intents to tackle the negative portrayal of Brazils favela communities in the hope to seek out the positive and attempt to transcend the typical clich's that are often related to a poverty and crime stricken area. This is a theme with clear relations to Recyclart as its ongoing success as an underground music and art culture hub continue to positively influence and aid the needs of the community it inhabits.
To find out more about what's on and how it works visit www.recyclart.be, and if you think you find yourself wandering Brussels this summer, be sure to print out a map and wander on down.
Article by: Sarah Hope