To the right of the statue of the fox ‘Reynaert’ there is a section of the park where greenery appears to grow unimpeded. It is in fact a special project. Old trees were felled and were replaced by a large variety of bushes and smaller trees, attracting birds and insects; a small site of biodiversity.

We walk along this park section to the crossroads. We head for the opposite side of the Parklaan,  where we briefly walk on. Just beyond the crossing with the Clement Heirmanstraat, we see the buildings of the Royal Athenaeum (Forum Da Vinci).  There we can admire the statue of Gerard Gaudaen. Gerard Gaudaen was born in Sint-Niklaas in 1927 and died in his home city in 2003. He was a famous Belgian specialist of lino cut, wood engraving and bookplates (ex-LIBRIS).  He studied at the Academies of Sint-Niklaas and Gent and the National Institute for Fine Arts NHISKA in Antwerp. He was an arts teacher at the Royal Athenaeum of Sint-Niklaas and later, as co-founder of the Ex-LIBRIS centre in Sint-Niklaas, became well-known and -loved in Art Societies in Sint-Niklaas. In 2013 vzw Kunst in De Stad organised a commemorative year in his honour. The sculptor is Winke Besard, whose distinguishing feature is authenticity. She hereby resolutely opts to express the essential. A rough approach, without superfluous details, emphasises the creative effect of her statues. This feature is also recognisable in another of her works, ‘Tussen Vertwijfeling en Hoop’ (Between Despair and Hope - 2008) , that found its place in the Heimolen cemetery in Sint-Niklaas. It is inspired by intuitive feeling and, in its strong expressiveness, depicts an inner battle.
Winke Besard avoids set patterns. Her sculptures breathe and take their space naturally. For the statue of ‘Gerard Gaudaen’ she had to use existing photos as a reference. The work, appearing to grow out of the rough stone, invites the spectator to join the artist in her thinking, musing and searching. It prompts the spectator to ‘encounter’. At the same time, Gaudaen seems to guard over ‘his’ Royal Athenaeum, the school where he was an arts teacher for many years. The students of the institute might feel a certain kinship and thus feel ‘greeted’ by Gaudaen.

BESARD Winke (1979)
Winke Besard, daughter of Hugo Besard, a well-known Antwerp graphic artist of international fame, studied ‘Free Visual Arts’ at secondary Arts School in Antwerp. She then studied ‘Free Visual Arts/Sculpture’ at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where she was a student of, amongst others, Wilfried Pas. She studied as teacher on academic level. Since finishing her studies she has received several awards: First Prize ‘Werminval vzw’ in 2003, an ‘Honourable mention Prize for Visual Arts Marc Macken’ in 2004, First Prize and Public award ‘1st triennial Brasschaat’ in 2005 and an Honourable mention on the ‘Prize Recognition of Merit Ernest Albert’, Cultural Centre Mechelen in 2008.

Kunst in de Stad – October 13th 2013