In a side street off the infamous Turnhoutsebaan, just a stone’s throw from Antwerp’s Central Station, Ingrid Deuss runs her eponymous photo gallery. It opened its doors in 2011, and more than a planned idea, the gallery just happened to her by chance. Over the years, she has hosted a wide array of interesting, expressive exhibitions, ranging from Nicolas Karakatsanis and Frieke Janssens to Rankin and Karel Fonteyne. We caught up with the constantly on-the-go mother of two and asked her about her favourite local hotspots and hangouts.

I used to pass this building often when going to my previous job, and it always appealed to me. We first moved into the apartment on the fourth floor, and when the ground floor came free, I moved my office there. After cleaning the place up a little, it was clear that it was far too pretty to be just another office space. And that’s why I wanted to turn it into some sort of ‘living website’. I mainly worked in fashion and advertising photography, and it was ideal to showcase my clients’ works. From there, it grew on to become the gallery it is today.

I picked this place for the building itself and not for its location, but a lot of galleries settled here and that makes it a very inspiring area. Stilll Gallery (12 Laar 2140) also focus on photography but has a different approach than I have. It’s very interesting to see what they’re up to and how it can sometimes complement our own shows. Base Alpha (12 Kattenberg 2140) and Zeno X (Godtsstraat 15, 2140) are two other great galleries, with stunning exhibitions, while Sofie Vandevelde (262 Lange Leemstraat 2018) hosts exhibitions in her own house. And recently Ibasho (tolstraat 67
2000) opened in Antwerp South. They’re all about Japanese photography and what they’re doing looks very promising.

When it comes to shopping, A.F. Vandevorst (Lombardenvest 20, 2000), has to be my all time favourite. The brand just gets to me, and I like almost every piece they design. Louis (2 Lombardestraat 2000) is also one of my fixed stops for nice clothes, and sometimes I also drop by Renaissance (32 Nationalestraat 2000). They both have a nice mix of cool, high-end brands. A recent discovery – for me anyway – is Thiron (6 Drukkerijstraat 2000), which has a very nice collection of shoes, with plenty of Belgian brands. I love Belgian brands, so I try to support them whenever I can. Graanmarkt 13 (13 Graanmarkt  2000) is also a gem. They have a surprising, unusual selection of clothes but they’re also very good for interior objects or gifts. I love the scents and beauty products from Santa Maria di Novello, so I stock up here regularly.

Graanmarkt 13 is also a superb place to have dinner. They serve creative, innovatory dishes and they’re open to the wishes of their customers. And the great interior makes the culinary aspect even better. Dôme sur Mer (1 Arendstraat 2018), is the best place for fish in the city, but everybody should know that by now. Arte (24 Suikerrui 2000) is an Italian place we often visit with our children, because of its down-to-earth, cosy atmosphere. The owner is also very much into art and photography, which is a nice touch. For a drink or two, I like to find a table at Vitrin (14 Marnixplaats 2000). It attracts a lot of creative types looking for a shot of caffeine or an after-work boost.

When I have a day off with the children, especially during summer, Middelheimpark (61 Middelheimlaan 2020) is one of my favourite destinations. The art collection is great off course, and the greenery is so calming. The children can run around by themselves there, but the museum also hosts a lot of fun activities, making them discover the artworks on their own terms.

I love this city, and I’m happy to call it home. Even though you have so many wonderful spots to discover here, I have the tendency to stick to what I know. Things that are good are good, and sometimes it’s nice to feel a sense of comfort or recognition. I’m a creature of habit, and I’m not complaining.

Portrait ©Sien Josephine