Schoolprojects - the Milena principle
the Milena principle" weergegeven

School projects




[Letters to a Tree / Library of Walks] De Toren School Melsele Beveren Belgium ⋈ 19.03 > 11.06.2018.



An educational art project in school. A workshop for youngsters [the age of 10] at De Toren school Melsele Beveren Belgium. The artistic theme's of: 'Letters to a tree', 'the Library of Walks' and 'Our Little Museums' are an inspiration for a project where nature, ecology, introspection, books, reading, writing, drawing, walking, is used as an instrument of knowledge and reflection.





[Letters to a Tree / Handwritings / Utopia?] OLVG School Melsele Beveren Belgium ⋈ 19.03 > 23.03.2017.



An educational art project / workshops for youngsters [the age of 11] by Stefaan van Biesen & Annemie Mestdagh at Onze Lieve Vrouw van Gaverland school Melsele Beveren Belgium. The artistic theme's of: 'Letters to a tree', 'the Library of Walks', 'Handwritings' and 'Utopia, just around the corner?' are an inspiration for a project where nature, ecology, books, reading, writing, drawing, walking, is used as an instrument of knowledge and reflection. With Katrien Van Stappen, teachers: Kemi Smith, Valerie Verdoodt and Christine Ostyn.





Writing hall with the tables in a ‘lamniscaat’ arrangement. Sint-Maarten Comprehensive school Beveren Belgium

Maps for On the road – letters from On the road - traveling inside your head.

The St. Maartenday started with a ‘sound’ performance in the refectory, all children participated in and an ‘atmosphere maker’ in the classroom, a small intervention in the classroom, changed it for a while. A soundscape was played and placed the children in a travelling mood.

In the classes or academy visual work was performed. In the writing hall a travel letter was written. A conversation held about the walks they had made in preparation, the installation in the entrance hall or writing hall, art, journeys or the theme ‘onderweg’ (= ‘on the road’) all helped to get the children working.

Being on the road means travelling, one can travel in many ways. Sometimes you do not even have to move; one may make an inner journey, imaginary journey, sometimes a day can be so surprising that it seems as if one has made a journey. Travelling means on the one hand arriving somewhere where one can find oneself, but on the other hand also leaving or letting go, which means that one experiences something one does not immediately expect. Travelling means breathing out, taking a breath at a location or at a point in time where time could stand still for a while. Travelling is also inhaling: a movement, a coming and going. Travelling is a transformation, a dynamic experience. Experiencing something, which comes, which passes by (automatically). This is the journey round which we want to realize a project.


writing moment for the studentswriting moment for the students

writing moment for the students.

Within the framework of the Heysse price we created a Milena project in the school. A Milena project is an overall event in which everything turns round: reflection - being on the road - participation - experience - connecting means letting loose. and it happens in a short time span.

In this case it was the St. Maartens celebration on 10th November 2006 in which the teachers and students participated. On that day the school underwent a transformation through creative contribution.

The exhibition merged with the rooms, where the children were engaged in a creative way: the sports hall transformed into a ‘writing hall’ with the hanging work of art ‘Geist’ (Spirit) by Stefaan van Biesen that imagines a journey to the inner and with a ‘walking library’ through the children themselves, in the classrooms a ‘soundscape’ and small visual interventions created the right tone, in the refectory a sound performance ‘Handklap-Sonate’ (= Clapping sonate), in which all children participated and which created an opening leading towards connection and spontaneity, in the entrance hall with a ‘brievenstroom’ (= Letter stream), an installation with hundreds of letters and ‘strips of paper with a thought on’ which the children provided, in several places videos about being ‘on the road’ from the Milena artists and instantaneous drawings and texts made on big panels during the event.



Artwork: ©Annemie Mestdagh & the Milena principle


The Milena principle departs from what is here at a specific moment, the spontaneity, the experience and gives it a place within the ‘event-exhibition’. A rigid approach of an exhibition is abandoned and the ‘public’ become part of the exhibition, participate and contribute to it, seeing movement, being ‘on the road’.

The participation consisted of the children being ‘on the road’ in a creative way, as well realizing their literary or visual work on St. Maartensday, their participation in a sound performance at the beginning of the day, the delivery of ‘walking bowls’ and ‘walking thoughts’, that found their destination in the project starting from ‘being on the road’.

The ‘walking bowls’ were a part of the ‘walking library’. Participants in the exhibition were asked to make a walk at home or while travelling, and to keep in a bowl, objects lost and found, but also notes or letters. This was exhibited in several projects in Belgium: Geel, Sint-Niklaas, Antwerp, Pittem and Zwijndrecht.



This was the first task we gave to the children. They were invited to be very conscious of the surrounding during a walk, for once not to be in a hurry while being on the road, but  to look around, to experience, to keep in a bowl what struck them, touched them during their walk. They could not only place objects in it, but also documents such as pictures or written things. The size and form of the bowl were chosen by themselves, only the original label was removed and replaced by a Milena label, which we had given in the ‘travelling file’.

The second task was to write one or a few words (not more than one sentence) on a piece of paper about what came to their mind while being on the road, this could be in the bus, on the tram, in the train, on the bike, in the lift, on the escalator or even on the stairs or in a hallway. These strips of paper with those thoughts could also contain wishes or dreams. It was the intention that these items formed the basis of expression of spontaneous thoughts of the children in an unprocessed form.




© private foundation van biesen-mestdagh 21.08.2018