A pastor in trainingWhy the Borinage and for what purpose? In 1778, Van Gogh is a young pastor in training for the Protestant Church. He is sent to the community of Petit-Wasmes to complete what he believed to be his vocation in contact with the poorest. Listening only to his feelings Van Gogh dedicates himself selflessly, living like the miners and refusing any comfort. He gives his belongings to the poor, lives in the Colfontaine forest for a while, goes down into the pit... These are commitments that displease the Church authorities who deny him the renewal of its mandate. Destiny was set in motion, Van Gogh feels invaded by a tremendous inner force that invites him to draw and paint.
Slag heaps, paths and alleys...
Until 1780, Vincent Van Gogh travels through the Borinage and Filip Depuydt takes us on a visit in his tracks. Departing from the Wasmes square at a stone’s throw from the church, you will pass by a dozen locations that evoke the memory of Van Gogh. The Protestant Temple of course, former House Denis where he stayed, became Maison Van Gogh, the salon of the baby where he preached and the site of Marcasse at Petit Wasmes where he descended with miners in the mine.
At the heart of the Borinage
A walk of 10 km at the heart of the villages that retain many traces of coal mining. Slag heaps of course, but also the Maison du Peuple of Pâturage, the work of architect Eugène Bodson, whose facade is decorated with a ??????? entitled "The triumph of labour". At the bend of a narrow street you will find a copy of the bust of Van Gogh by the French Belarusian-born sculptor Ossip Zadkine. The original work is visible in the Town Hall during opening hours, its precise caption reads "Vincent Van Gogh left here in search of the sun and himself".