In April of 2006 the Foundation ‘Voorheen de Gemeente’ (VHDG - Previously the Council) moves into a new office and exposition building in the centre of Leeuwarden. It is the former and original Baptist church in the M. H. Trompstraat and it is completely renovated by VHDG.
With “Voorheen de kerk" the new site is officially opened as art exposition space by Maze de Boer.
When entering the church at the (only) entrance at the M. H. Trompstraat, the façade is solely visible. It is not possible to walk around the church. Because of this given, it is not clear from the outside how big the church is on the inside.
One enters the building in a vestibule that is separated from the rest of the space by two spring-loaded doors. This is where the attendant is seated. Here you can find information about the exposition and other activities organised by VHDG.
A small chapel is entered when passing the spring-loaded doors. This intimate white room has a slightly curving dome-shaped roof. The carpet looks dark. The lighting is of typical white glass bulbs that are often seen in churches. In the far end of the room is a lectern set up in a niche. In front of it are five rows of oak-wooden pews. The pews have a ledge attached to the back of the front seat to possibly place a Bible on.
The minimal interior of the chapel gives off serenity and leaves all direct references to religion behind.
At the left end of the room is an inconspicuous entrance that appears to give access to a very dark corridor leading to the right. After a few steps in the dark one’s eyes get slightly used to the darkness and a small beam of light at the end of the corridor becomes visible. After 12 metres one enters a dimly lit room that functions as the filing cabinet of VHDG. Through this room one enters another room that gives access to narrow stairs leading upstairs.
Upstairs is a balcony on which one can overlook the whole art exposition space in the church. Now it becomes clear the building is much bigger than was suggested at first.
The balcony shows the entire space. At the same level at the other ridge of the roof the office of VHDG is visible, that covers half of the storey, as does the balcony. The office on one side and the balcony on the other are separated by the high exposition room in the middle. On both sides of the church are stained-glass windows with daylight passing through.
In the art exposition space is an unfinished construction visible that one has entered from the inside. It is the chapel where one has entered the building and that seemed to cover the space that appears to be so much bigger now the entire Baptist church is visible from the balcony.
Now, it seems one has entered the art exposition space through a temporary constructed space without noticing. The small chapel seemed to cover the entire space at first sight, but wasn’t recognised as part of an exposition.
The small chapel refers to the original function the art exposition space had, as a Baptist church.
The experience of "Voorheen de kerk" appeals to both the former visitors of the Baptist church as well as to the new visitors of the art exposition space of VHDG.
Tubelight #44, 1 May 2006