Slow Art Day at Sint Pauluskerk in Antwerp

On April 2, 2022, Sint Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium held their fifth Slow Art Day – bringing together about 500 people for an in-person event in their Calvary Garden.

Calvary Garden, Saint Paul’s Antwerp, Belgium – credit Sint-Pauluskerk Antwerpen
Calvary Garden, Saint Paul’s Antwerp, Belgium – credit Sint-Pauluskerk Antwerpen

The garden, populated by prophets and saints and sheltered by the church wall and private home, contains 64 statues and architecture that dates from the 1700s.

It is a place of reflection, an oasis of peace in the center of the busy port city, and as such a perfect spot for a Slow Art Day.

For this fifth Slow Art Day, they had volunteers (“St. Paul’s friends”) in the Garden to help answer questions and guide participants. Importantly, they also made the Garden free of charge from 2pm to 5pm on Slow Art Day, helping to welcome hundreds of people into this outdoor art-filled sanctuary.

As noted, their in-person afternoon was very well attended.

Additionally, they generated great online engagement including hundreds of Facebook and Instagram likes.

Saint Paul’s Antwerp, Belgium, guide Leo Vereecken during Slow Art Day 2022, credit Sint-Pauluskerk Antwerpen
Saint Paul’s Antwerp, Belgium, guide Leo Vereecken during Slow Art Day 2022, credit Sint-Pauluskerk Antwerpen

We must admit that we are big fans of the team at Sint Pauluskerk. They are an inspiration to all of us around the world who care about building this movement based on slow looking, reflection, and love.

– Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Johanna, and Jessica Jane

P.S. Please help us welcome a new Slow Art Day volunteer, Robin Cerio. Robin has a Master’s in art history, has worked in museums, and is going to help us with our big backlog of 2022 reports. In fact, she drafted this report. Welcome, Robin!

Two Resurrections: Slow Art Day at Sint-Pauluskerk

Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium, hosted its fourth Slow Art Day event with a focus on the theme of “Resurrection”.

The event featured a comparison between the “Resurrection of Christ” by Aenout Vickenborgh, and Peter Paul Rubens’s painting with the same title, both of which are on display in the church.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Resurrection of Christ, 1611-1612.
Oil on panel, 138 x 98 cm.
Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp.
Aernout Vinckenborgh, Resurrection of Christ, 1615-1620.
Oil on panel, 223 x 166 cm.
Courtesy of Saint Paul’s church, Antwerp.

On April 10, church visitors were invited to participate in a guided 45-minute session to view the paintings. The session featured slow looking, which was followed by discussion and detailed comparisons of the paintings by the guides. Due to continued pandemic restrictions, sessions were capped at 10 visitors per group, with only 15 people allowed in the church at the same time.

The church also created a short documentary for those who could not come in person. This was shared via email to their 1,500 subscribers. The documentary was also shared to the church’s Facebook page.

Below is a link to the video, but keep in mind that it is available only in Dutch.

Armand Storck, scriptor for Sint-Pauluskerk, hopes that their planned video production for Slow Art Day 2022 will include English subtitles to reach an international audience.

“Der Verrijzenis” (in English “The Resurrections”) created by Sint-Pauluskerk, 2021.

The in-person event was attended by 45 people in total, and the documentary video has been viewed by 2,500 people via Facebook and YouTube combined. Viewers of the video responded positively.

“Nicely presented, informative, pleasant. Thanks to the volunteers and to Armand for the introduction.”

“Incredibly beautiful, congratulations to the whole team!”

Participant responses to the “Der Verrijizenis” video on Facebook (translated from Dutch).

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that Sint-Pauluskerk opens its doors for Slow Art Day with a theme that fits the church calendar. The alignment of slow looking exercises with the reflective period of lent works beautifully. We hope that more churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious organizations are inspired by their approach.

We look forward to another event from Sint-pauluskerk in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, and Ashley

Rubens for Lent at Sint-Pauluskerk

For their third Slow Art Day, the Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium, produced a slow-panning video of Peter Paul Rubens’ painting ‘The Flagellation of Christ’.

Narrated by Wilfried Van den Brande, with text by Rudi Mannaerts, the video features the stunning inside of the church and a commentary on Rubens’ artwork (click on the photo below to watch).

The nave, or central part, of Sint-Pauluskerk

Previously on loan to the Doge’s palace in Venice, the painting returned to Antwerp in time for the Slow Art Day event. Since Easter fell on the week following Slow Art Day this year, the painting’s theme of Christ’s suffering fit in well with the pre-Easter church calendar.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Flagellation of Christ, 17th century. Sint-Pauluskerk, Antwerp.

Many thanked the church for sharing the video, and several explicitly talked about how much they missed visiting the actual church. The Facebook video was viewed 2,535 times.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we are delighted that the thoughtful connection between the event hosted by Sint-Pauluskerk and the Easter holiday was so well received.

We hope that Sint-Pauluskerk will be able to open its doors for Slow Art Day 2021.

– Johanna and Ashley