Though he claims to be not so well known in Belgium, visual artist Kris Martin’s homeland is well present in his work. Take for instance ‘Idiot 4’ resting on top of St Bavo’s cathedral, the ‘Altar’ in Ostende, and most recently, Kris’ activities as curator of and one of the driving forces behind Pass, a group show spanning the fields near his home. We caught up with Kris as he took us on a tour of some of his favorite addresses in Ghent: heading downtown from the Vooruit, strolling past the flower stalls on the Kouter (pausing to share a joke with the flower vendor who beautified his wedding), and ending at the antique wonderland that is the market on Bij St Jacobs. Here, Kris shares a list of neighborhood picks around his resting grounds in Mullen. His tips for an area off the beaten track comprises quality offerings that reassure the environmentally conscious and satisfy urbane palates.

For more on Pass check out review, here.

Kris Martin, Basel 2011

© Jan Marchand

I have lived in Ghent for a long time, but a year ago my family and I have moved to Mullem, not far from where I grew up. It’s a very charming, quiet little village. What I like about this place is that there are many different kinds of people living here. It’s far from the average Flemish village and the population is a lot more diverse than what you would expect. I found out that a lot of people here have a love for the arts. For my children, it’s paradise: they have a lot of room to play and a heap of local friends.

I often eat at ’t Huis van Lede (7 Lededorp 9772). Chef Frederick sticks to the classics, but prepares them extremely well. Whatever you order here, it’s always top notch. Frederick only works with the best products in season. The sommelier, Stijn, is in a league of his own as well, always surprising me with excellent wines.

For a quick snack, I go to In de Kroon (15 Mullemstraat 9700). A very charming place in the center of Mullem, it’s always buzzing with a cozy atmosphere. In the nearby village, Huise, there is the Kapellehof, a farm where you can sit on the terrace and have a beer, or taste their delicious home-made ice cream with milk from their own cows.

As you can probably tell, I love local and simple products. For meat, I often go to Vande Walle (14 Stationsstraat 9690) in Berchem (not the Berchem in Antwerp though, the one in Kluisbergen). Members of the Vande Walle family have been butchers for seven generations and they breed their own animals. The quality of the meat and the service is superb.

An insider tip for wellness lovers is Eau Bain (116A Vaddenhoek 9700) in Mullem, a private sauna and hammam where Ruth takes care of her guests in an extraordinary way.

And for a weekend trip in my village, I should of course recommend the Pass exhibition running through the 5th of July. I have initiated this exhibition together with Jan Hoet Junior. Pass is an art walk of 10 kilometres through Mullem, Huise, Wannegem and Lede, with more than 50 participating artists. We show a mix of established artists (such as Michaël Borremans or Thierry De Cordier) and upcoming talent, such as Katrien Paulussen.

Ghent is only a 25-minute drive away from Mullem. Whenever I feel like sniffing a bit of city air, I jump in my car. I’m an antique lover and in the weekends you can often find me strolling through the market at St-Jacobs (Bij Sint-Jacobs 9000). One of my favorite antique shops is Galerie St John (2 Niewpoort 9000). And when mentioning Ghent, I should of course mention my number one hot spot, an everlasting inspiration: the Ghent Altarpiece.

Don’t miss your last chance to see ‘Pass.’

Until the 5th of July

Kris Martin  

Feature Image: copyright Christophe Vander Eecken.