the middle of the 19th century new techniques revolutionized the
English tile industry. The same
happened in Belgium. From 1897
onwards the Manufacture
de Céramiques Décoratives d’Hasselt set up a huge publicity campaign to
promote the use of ceramic material in the building industry. Together with Boch Frères in La Louvière, Helman in
Sint-Agatha-Berchem and Gilliot in Hemiksem they made Belgian wall tiles world
wall tiles proved to offer a lot of practical advantages they were more and more
used, certainly in the period 1905-1914. Within
the built-up city centre of Blankenberge colourful tableaux began to adorn the
façades of the terraced houses.
major factories were represented on the walls, including some from France and
Germany. Floral motifs were by far the more popular, next to nature scenes with
birds and seascapes. Shopkeepers
displayed big advertising posters.
little friezes, everyday street-signs or big arches and imposing tableaux, they
all can be seen in Blankenberge. Although
many houses could not escape demolition, Blankenberge can still boast. a
considerable number of Art Nouveau artefacts.
importance of the wall tile heritage in Blankenberge was recognized when the
most important dwellings with art nouveau wall tiles were declared protected
monuments in 2003.
tile expert Mario Baeck was able
to identify a large number
of wall tile creations and thus contributed to opening up this unique heritage
to the public.
summarized some of his ideas in his speech at the Art Nouveau Exhibition in
Blankenberge in 2001 as follows:“I would like to emphasize here, in this
forum, the importance of the rescue and preservation of this unique heritage.
Numerous examples abroad – Paris, London, Glasgow, Dresden – show
that this big concentration of high quality wall tiles could represent a
commercial and tourist asset. The authorities here would be well advised to treat the few
still intact ensembles of Art Nouveau architecture with the utmost care and to
preserve them in situ. If that is
not possible they should be dismantled and given a place in museological
more pictures click here.