ART > 2021 - 2022 >

FOYER @ AZ SINT-MAARTEN/ TheA (Therapeutic Atelier) - children and adolescent psychiatric building






1. Wall panel (3 panels joined)

upholstered and textile artwork on wood and aluminium frame; 

upholstery foam (2- and 4cm), polyester filling, 100% cotton, synthetic tulle, synthetic velvet, metallic fabric, sequin fabric, polyester satin, polyester and cotton mix terry cloth, small grain stretch fleece, polyester ribbon and cord ribbon, and quilted fabric;

2.10m (H) x 6.48m (W) x 0.10m (D)

2. Hanging Symbols (9 quantity)

carved sculptures;

puur hard foam, 2-component Vosschemie spray putty and self-leveler, A1 Acrylic One resin, Akzo Nobel Magnacryl interior matte paint, monk's cloth, 2-component knead epoxy, spray paint, thread rods, stainless steel cables, and hanging hardware

+/- 162cm (H) x 162cm (W) x 82cm (D)

An official ceremony commemorating the opening of AZ Sint-Maarten's Children's and Adolescents' psychiatric building occurred June 16th, 2022.

Production Assistant: Amber Hoogland


Art is about doing and experience - it’s not just for looking; it does something. Art is thought embedded into material; art embodies meaning.

For the majority of its history, art has been a verb, something that does things to or for you, that makes things happen. 

Holy relics in churches all over the world are said to heal. Art has been carried into war, made to protect us, curse a neighbor, kill someone; aide in getting pregnant or preventing pregnancy.^1 Art is more than what it has been reduced down to in the past 100 years, which is something to passively consume in a clean, white, well-lit art gallery or museum.

* * * * *

In considering the vision and values of Algemeen Ziekenhuis Sint-Maarten, the mission and care process of Therapeutic "TheA" Atelier (openness, playfulness, creativity, and connection), the architecture of VK Studio, and most importantly the children and adolescent, loved ones, visitors, and staff of AZ Sint-Maarten, I hereby propose an artwork to be located in the central entrance hall - the foyer. 

I view the foyer as architecturally significant because it is the entrance - the main thoroughfare of the building. The foyer is a semi-public, interior space featuring a staircase which connects both floors of the building and their respective programs and usage. The foyer space is therefore the connection point, a “place of meeting” and is therefore the heart of the building.


1. Jerry Saltz


The boundary between the outside world and the inner world of AZ Sint-Maarten, where professional psychiatric intervention occurs for children and adolescents, occurs physically at the central entrance hall/ foyer. It is at this point where a being goes from the outside environment (cross walks, bus stops, cars, the main hospital, parking lot, paths, rain, grass, wildlife, etc.) into an inner space. The body senses a change in stimuli which is non-verbal. So as long as the senses see, smell, taste, touch, and hear, we will be aware of this change.

It is therefore important to emphasize this transition at the central entrance hall/ foyer through an artwork.


A. Description

My proposed artwork for the central entrance hall/ foyer is composed of two parts: a 3D wall work at 6.5m (width) x 2.3m (height) x 0.20m (depth) which is accompanied by hanging works spanning the foyer, east to west, at +/-5.64m per span (width of foyer). Although the work occurs in 2 parts, it is considered one artwork because the hanging works spanning the foyer are extensions of the 3D wall work.

The 3D wall work will be installed on the eastern wall of the foyer, beginning at the level of the first floor while the hanging works will occur at the lower left and upper right sections of the 3D wall work. Both bodies will therefore be physically unreachable from the ground floor and staircase, but will be clearly seen. 

* * * * *

The artwork, “Journey,” consists of two distinct parts: 1) an upholstered wall panel and 2) hanging objects. “Journey” is located in the foyer/ main entrance of the building, an architecturally significant location because it is a semi-public, interior space which acts as the connection point between both floors of the building with an open atmosphere, reinforced visually with glass walls along the staircase and first floor, and the expanse of windows along the north- and west-facing walls. It is therefore important to further emphasize, through the artwork, the foyer which is the boundary between the outside world and the inner world of Therapeutic "TheA" Atelier. The artwork greets the visitors in open, colorful, imaginative, and creative ways through materiality, subject, content, color, light, texture, and scale.

The wall panel, the first of two parts of the artwork “Journey,” is flanked on either side by architectural elements: columns and stone walls. This is a visual reference to the architectural elements within the oil painting of  “Saint Martin and the Beggar” by Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyck. A reproduction of this painting hangs in the main building of AZ Sint-Maarten. The art historical and cultural connection is therefore made between both buildings (TheA and AZ Sint-Maarten) through art and the namesake, Saint Martin. 

above: (left) Anthony Van Dyck’s “Saint Martin and the Beggar,” ca. 1618. A reproduction of this painting hangs in the building of AZ Sint-Maarten. The architectural elements on the right of this painting is reference in the upholstered wall panel.

(right): "De maneblussers," anonymous painter, ca. 1700. The moon and clouds, pertinent elements to this comical Mechelen folklore (location of AZ Sint-Maarten's TheA), are made as elements within the wall panel and as a hanging object in the foyer.

The subject matter of the wall panel is of an imaginative landscape consisting of velvety rolling hills sprinkled with green trees and bushes; shimmering waters with sailing ships; a beachside; mountains in the distant; and a sky of both day and night consisting of colorful hot air balloons, glittering clouds and stars, and the ever present sun and moon. 

The content of this landscape is that of a journey - a place in which both the known and unknown is present, and is symbolized by day and night (day/light: consciousness, the known; night/darkness: subconsciousness, the unknown).

The journey through the known and unknown landscape is facilitated through vehicles of ships, hot air balloons and imagination; while the journey of self-discovery and emotional learning of the children and adolescents is facilitated by connection, openness (two of four of Therapeutic "TheA" Atelier's values), the support system of the professionals and staff of TheA, family members and loved ones. Imagination sets into play through the creative use of colors, textures, and ways in which light shimmers off the materials and is registered by the eyes, therefore stimulating the senses: a safe atmosphere is established for emotional learning. The upholstered surfaces, and the use of varying textiles (transparent and opaque; sparkling and matte; neutral and bright), are intentionally chosen to create a “gezellig” atmosphere to greet the viewer with its creativity and playfulness, reinforcing the core values of TheA.

In addition to the reference to the namesake Saint Martin, there is also the visual reference to the “Maneblusser” - a resident of Mechelen (the location/ city of TheA), through the comical 17th century folklore of the same name. This is seen through the subjects of the clouds and moon within the panel and of hanging objects.

The hanging objects, the second of two parts of the artwork “Journey,” consist of nine (9) symbols: five (5) of which are found within the wall panel (sun, moon, two hot air balloons, a ship); three (3) are from TheA’s organized age groups (“KD” Frog/ Atelier for the toddlers/kleuters; “OK” Atelier, symbolized by a “thumbs up” hand for children; and “ID” Atelier, symbolized by winking eyes for the adolescent and teenagers), and the last hanging object is of the abbreviation of Therapeutic Atelier: “TheA.” The hanging objects are hand carved and painted in colorful paints, with small details of wood, fabric, chains, and one anchor of a ship (which is signed by the artist, Tramaine de Senna).

In conclusion, the artwork “Journey” creatively combines an abundance of elements to create a welcoming, safe environment as a signifier for the emotional learning to take  place in the Therapeutic “TheA” Atelier of Algemene Ziekenhuis Sint-Maarten.

the new building: AZ Sint-Maarten's TheA: Therapeutic Atelier, as of June 2022


Eleni Van Looy (hoofdverantwoordelijke, TheA, kinder- en jeugdpsychiatrie) 

and Dr. Daniëlle van der Merwe (AZ Sint-Maarten, kinder- en jeugdpsychiater) 

speak at the opening ceremony.

installation and transport:

research, development, and processes:

pre-construction of Therapeutic Atelier (TheA) at AZ Sint-Maarten, Mechelen:

Site visits to Therapeutic "TheA" Atelier at UPC Duffel:

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