De Unie Hasselt-Genk | An initiative of

Art in the public space

Nils Norman – Picturesque Sketches: after Léon Becker

Hoogzij – Genk

The painting on the inside of the bridge – a collage inspired by the illustrations of the landscape painter and arachnologist Léon Becker, who in the 19th century illustrated a reference work on spiders, refers to the immediate natural environment and the importance of preserving the ecological balance in this area. It also refers to the human ecology of the area and the recent protests and closing of the Ford plant. The mural has not been sponsored in anyway by Ford and is more of a critical comment on the social impact of such a factory closure.

Paintwork executed by Eddie Vanhoef

21st September 4 p.m.: Offical opening + artist talk Nils Norman

Nils Norman

°1966, Kent (UK), lives and works in London (UK)

In his work, Nils Norman starts with a thorough examination of the existing situation. He uses this as a basis for the elaboration of proposals for change in which ecology, alternative economy and inventive gameplay elements take central place. Norman’s projects are often participatory in nature. In his projects, which combine public art, architecture and urban planning, he involves local residents, volunteers, urban services and public or other interested parties.


The association Heempark Genk is an organisation that was set up in 1991 to provide environmental education in the city of Genk, and organise and maintain a local native park. It is a small-scale model of the former agricultural landscape. In the area, there are a number of themed botanical gardens, such as a garden of medicinal herbs, a nuts and fruit garden, a berry garden and a bog garden. There is also a bee garden with beehives, a playground and a petting zoo.


The domain Kattevennen is one of the six entrance gates to the National Park Hoge Kempen. Each entrance gate is embellished with a nature theme. Kattevennen, with its Cosmodrome as the most prominent landmark, features the theme of the macrocosm.

Léon Becker

The study of Belgian spiders began at the end of the 19th century with the very creditable work of Léon Becker (1826-1909). As a landscape painter and arachnologist, Becker collected spiders from all over the country, and published his distribution data in four luxuriously published volumes entitled ‘Les Arachnides de Belgique’ (BECKER, 1882, 1896). Especially the two large volumes with lithographed images are extremely fine examples of the art of scientific illustration of that period. Léon Becker also illustrated children’s books, in which Nils Norman found the inspiration for his artwork. Becker also was a regular visitor of Genk, not only for scientific field research but also as an artist. His work is also represented in the collection of the Emile Van Doren Museum.

About the location

Hoogzij 7 – Genk
(tunnel Hoogzij under the Oosterring)

OPEN: The artwork of Nils Norman can be visited permanently

The artwork by Nils Norman is wheelchair-accessible.