Touring Eilandje: unmissable outdoor artworks
Het Eilandje – Dutch for “the little Island” – is an area located on the border between the city and port in Antwerp, which has undergone a remarkable transformation over the years. What was once an industrial port area with old docks and warehouses has become a lively neighborhood with modern attractions, trendy restaurants, and excellent cultural experiences, like the MAS Museum and the Red Star Line Museum. In this article, we wish to point out some striking outdoor artworks in the area. Be enchanted by the artistic splendor of the Eilandje!
1/ Pliny’s Sorrow – A monumental bird at the Red Star Line Museum
One of the most eye-catching works of art on Antwerp’s Eilandje is the sculpture “Pliny’s Sorrow”. It stands on the square opposite the Red Star Line Museum, at the spot where people used to leave for America on the Red Star Line. It is a large bronze sculpture by artist Johan Creten. It is 4.5 meters high and weighs 1,820 kilos. It looks like an eagle spreading its wings, but it is actually a cormorant resting on a bollard. The cormorant’s pose is powerful, but the sculpture’s skin is rough, and its body has an open back, making it look somewhat fragile.
2/ The Land Remover – A homage to migration history
Another remarkable monument on the Eilandje is “De Landverhuizer”, meaning someone moving from one country to another. Sculptor Carla Kamphuis-Meijer created this life-size bronze statue. She based it on a drawing by Eugeen Van Mieghem (1875-1930), a well-known Antwerp painter. Eugeen Van Mieghem made numerous sketches and pastels of people who migrated from Antwerp to America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The sculpture is a tribute to the emigrants of the time. It stands at the intersection of Rijnkaai and Amsterdamstraat, close to a tram stop. It is part of a series of five bronze sculptures on the Eilandje, all referring to Van Mieghem’s work. They show different aspects of life in the port city and depict the raw reality of dock work.
3/ Resurrection Of Antigone – A modern interpretation of a fascinating legend
Another striking artwork on the Eilandje is “Resurrection Of Antigoon” in Zaha Hadid Square in front of the Port House. The artwork shows a giant hand grasping a bollard. It refers to the legend about the giant Antigoon who, in the distant past, cut off the hand of people who would not pay his toll when they sailed up the Scheldt. Fortunately, he was defeated by the Roman soldier Silvius Brabo. The Resurrection of Antigoon is a work of art representing the long struggle to keep the Scheldt open and navigable, for example, after Antwerp’s fall in 1585. It is a beautiful work of art that attracts the attention of every passer-by.
4/ De Fluisteraar – An interactive artwork on a facade
You can find an intriguing artwork called “The Antwerp Whisperer” near the MAS museum. It’s a striking white sculpture of a square-headed figure sitting on Godefriduskaai directly opposite a facade where the same little white men climb upwards. They are so-called “Bomannetjes”, little figures with cube-shaped heads, devised by artist Daisy Boman. The art is interactive: you can leave coded messages via an app, which are then whispered to whoever has the code to listen to them.
5/ Tizarte 2018 – Street art in vibrant colors
Antwerp’s Eilandje is also known for its vibrant street art. A striking example is a mural by artists Ceepil & K.Shit on the Rijnkaai, just opposite the Red Star Line Museum. It was created during the 2018 Tizarte 3D Street Art. It is a kind of optical illusion you get sucked into. It is also an explosion of color and energy. Murals like this one bring the Eilandje even more to life.
These works give a little taste of the breathtaking monuments and artworks the Eilandje offers. Are you inspired to get to know the area better? Then a guided tour of the Eilandje might be for you. A guided tour is a fun way to discover the rich history of a place while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere and the beautiful buildings and art creations. Join us as we explore. Book your tour now at Walking in Antwerp.