After her departure as business manager of the Andromeda Hotel and in Ostend’s politics, Sabine Friederichs gave her life a new twist. She now lives in an artist village in the south of France for more than half the year. She and her husband are the driving forces behind Latuvu, a project on contemporary art. “I enjoy it more than I used to, but I’m busy. I’ve really found my stuff now,” says Sabine, who recently turned 60 years old.
It is a coincidence that we find Sabine Friederichs in Ostend, because she only stays here for eight days. Then she returns to Bages, the artist village by a large salt lake and a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean. “Many years ago we heard that an artist was selling his house there. We took the TGV to see it and fell in love with it right away. Not much later we bought it. It is an old windmill that we have preserved the authenticity of, but also added modern elements. We now spend most of our time there. ”
What exactly are you doing there?
“My husband is a graphic designer and has his studio there. His printing and other materials are there. And we have our art project with gallery there. This runs from Easter to November, which means we have more time to spend in Ostend in the winter. It used to be hot for me to go to the beach, but now I can really enjoy the ocean in the winter. And certainly also from Ostend fish and shrimp. ”
And why the art project?
“Without even being aware of it, we had already laid out all the building blocks. It has always been my dream to do something about art. I also went to art school, first when I was 17 and then many years later. I also paint myself. We had the house for a long time. And so we ended up there by chance. But we took the opportunities that presented themselves. Just by feeling, without hesitation. “
Was it difficult for you to leave the Andromeda Hotel?
“It took me a long time to get over it. Getting up early every morning, working seven days a week … You will take that with you for a long time. When we drove into Ostend, my husband always put me first and first of all in the hotel. Suddenly it was no longer necessary. It was also my father’s life’s work, which was also an art lover and which has done a lot for eastern artists. Yes, it took a while to get used to, but after a while other things come instead. And the buyers of the C-Hotels group are amazing people. ”
What kind of project is Latuvu?
“We exhibit contemporary art: paintings, graphics, sculptures, installation art … Bages has almost 700 inhabitants, but has four art galleries. This summer we are arranging the ‘Lumen’ project. The village’s other galleries participate and exhibit in the same theme, light. Twelve artists from the region are also opening their studios, so you can see as many as 30 artists’ work together. ”
You still remain enterprising.
“I can not resist. By the lake we also perform video and other performances that are films in the open air … Something for everyone. We want to make art accessible, not over people’s heads. You come to the region for the sake of nature, but in the meantime you can also experience art.We meet an international audience but also many French people because they travel a lot in their own country.Every year an artist lives with us.He lives and works a few weeks in the studio next door “The gallery, after which he exhibits the results. Everyone who exhibits with us can stay for a week. The bond with the artists is also important.”
You also left the policy of the East. Do not miss it?
“Not really. I did politics honestly for 15 years and did what I thought was right. I put my shoulders under the Great Post where I was vice president. The House of Culture has been around for ten years now and it seems like it always has been there. If there is one thing I sometimes miss in France, it is the performances in the Grote Post. Belgium has many good artists in all areas. I also campaigned for tourist projects that suited Ostend, with a lot of culture. It should not be a fair. But I’m not cut out of the right cloth to get stuck in politics from morning to night. After leaving our hotel, I wanted some more freedom. But I continue to defend the values of liberalism. “And I’m still vice president of Mu.ZEE.”
What is the biggest change now in terms of running a hotel?
“That we just do it with the two of us, my husband and I, not with a large staff team. And it’s a quieter life, completely in nature. Although it’s left for a city museum, if I’m right, the city of Narbonne is not far away. Especially during the lockdown, we experienced how good it is to live in the middle of nature. We have revised the values of life. We are now more satisfied with the little things that a group of friends and artists come to visit and each bring something to eat or drink. Then we split it up. the sharingwe call it. We are well integrated in the village. Art must also be shared. It’s more relaxed, but we’re busy. “
Private: born in Ostend on June 2, 1962. Married to Herman Van Synghel, two daughters: Margo (31) and Justine (29). Usually lives in Bages in the south of France in the Aude department, but also regularly in Ostend.
Education and career: license moral science (VUB). Managed Andromeda Hotel in Ostend for 30 years (until 2014). Municipal councilor (Open VLD, 2012-2019), chairman of the municipal council (2013-2014).
Spare time: visit museums, read about art and artists, swim in the sea or in the lake.