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Meet Huset! Kunstcafé, Galerij, & Bang-up! Opera’s New Home

Eveline Roels, Huset OwnerApril showers bring May GOOD NEWS! Bang-up! Opera is proud to present our new partner in music making, creating, and inspiring: Huset!

Walk into Huset, and you’re sure to feel like you’ve just walked right into somebody’s home. Maybe that’s because you just have! Behind the bar, in the kitchen, or chatting up guests while serving drinks and good eats, you’ll find Huset owner Eveline Roels. A Ghent artist turned café & gallery owner, Eveline graduated from Sint Lucas Hogeschool voor Wetenschap en Kunst Gent and holds a Master’s in Visual Arts. Born and raised in Ghent (in fact, in the very house where Huset is located todayminus three years her family spent in Sweden), alongside her two giant Swiss dogs Joske (a girly Saint Bernard) and Woutje (a gentle old Bernese mountain dog), her boyfriend, and her father, Eveline opens up Huset, her home, for inspiration.

The house was built in 1860-1870. It was a winter house. The owner had a castle in West Flanders somewhere around Brugges. In the winter it was too cold to live in his castle #19thcenturycastleownerproblems so they came to live in this house. It’s like a vacation house, but for the winter. My family bought it in 1986-87, right before I was born.

One sunny Belgian spring afternoon, the windows wide open, the sun shining in, the house cool and cozy, the terrace in full swing with an afternoon rush of guests, and fado playing in the background, Eveline sits down with us for a quick chat.

What is Huset?

Huset is a place where everything can happen. It’s supposed to be like, somebody comes in and they have an idea and it’s all possible, and then we can go from there. It has to be free and open and not too defined what can and cannot happen.

What does Huset mean?

Huset is Swedish from ‘the house’. We chose the name because it was a name that wasn’t always understood by everybody. It’s just a word and you can interpret it in your way. It’s a name that can mean anything. So that’s also what I mean with anything can happen here. It’s not, oh it’s a cafe and an art gallery, and that’s it. It can be a meeting place for people. It can be an art place. It can be a creative place. It can be anything.

 Who’s Eveline Roels?

Before we get into the deeper question, Eveline gives us a quick lesson on how to pronounce her name: “In Flemish, we pronounce the ‘oe’ like ‘oo’ in English, it’s like ‘Rules’. So, in English I have a really funny name.” [Eveline Rules! That’s pretty awesome.].

I don’t really know how to explain who I am. It’s a difficult question. [pauses] I try to be an artist, but that’s very difficult. You have to be very self-confident and you have to be out there. And, when I graduated, I wanted to find a job and I really couldn’t find anything I liked. So, I tried to do something that would make me feel very comfortable, and that’s doing something in my own house. So, that’s very me. I like to do something where I’m happy and safe. I’m kind of a scared person so I like to be surrounded with things that comfort me. This place does that to me, so that’s why I wanted to do something here. And, something with art because it’s a big part of who I am. Not necessarily making it now. I used to do that a lot, but now I’m going in a different direction with my life, so I’ll see how that goes. But, it’s like a combination for me, how I am as a person as well, of everything, inviting people and making them feel comfortable. I tried to do this place like how I am a bit. It’s kind of a reflection of who I am.

And, you collaborate with other artists?

Yes. I’m trying to work with people who create their thing and then I kind of feel how they’re doing, and that makes me feel good, their creative process. I don’t really have one now because I don’t make art anymore, but I can live through them and through their art… Someday I will do stuff again, but now I feel like this is the thing I’m doing.

What do you envision for Huset?

I want to keep it open. I don’t want to define everything now because then I’m scared I’m going to miss out on other opportunities. I always try to be very open to stuff. But, what for me is very important is that I can surround myself with people here that I feel a connection with. It’s what I have with Bang-up! Opera. I really feel that we can work together. It’s the same with artists that come here. That we can interact, discuss things, create new things. And, I just want this place to inspire people… The photographer that’s here now [Sun-hee Beys], she came here, I think, six months ago and she was just here for an hour or two and she went home and she started to do work that this place inspired her to do. When she told me that, I was really happy! Because it means this place does something to people. Because the house does something to me, it really makes me do stuff. It’s very strange that a house can do that. For me, it’s like a person, it’s like a member of the family. And, apparently this happens to other people too.

Anything else you’d like people to know about Huset?

I want people to know Huset is very personal. It’s like it’s me. So, if people like it, they like me. If they don’t like it, they don’t like me [laughs]. That’s kind of the tricky part here. But, mostly they like it, so that’s good… I don’t want Huset to be the new hot spot where everybody goes. I want it to make money, I want to survive, but I also want it to be like everybody’s little secret, their little hideout, that they feel secure like ‘Ah, I can go there and I’ll be comfortable’… That’s what I want because that’s how I want to feel here too. If everybody’s going to come here and it’s going to be too busy then I won’t be able to make it personal anymore. I want to keep doing it on my own or with one person, but I don’t want to have a staff of four people that run around. I don’t feel comfortable with that… I want to advertise through the things I do here, like Bang-up! Opera or an exhibition. This is Huset. You can come and look, but just advertising on its own, no. I want to lure people here, make them excited.

Well, if this isn’t Kismet, we don’t know what is! Bang-up! Opera and Huset are two peas in a podboth intent on doing what we love, sharing our passions, and inspiring the world around us to do the same. We knew we had found a really special place when we first stepped into Huset. One short chat with Eveline later, and Bang-up! Opera had found a new homea place to keep dreaming big in, create in, and transform the way people look at what we do.

Bang-up! Opera will kick off our start at Huset this July 2013 with a fan favorite project celebrating our one-year anniversary (Check Facebook to cast your vote!). Then, during this year’s Gentse Feesten, we present our very own Bang-up! Opera Feesten, a 10-day festival of opera, song, and more, that will be in full swing from 20-29 July 2013 at Huset. All Bang-up! Opera projects. Each night something completely different! Each night at Huset! More details on what to expect at Bang-up! Opera Feesten 2013 on our next blog post, coming in just a few weeks!

OK, so now that you’ve found Ghent’s best kept secret, Shhh…

Huset Kunstcafé & Galerij
Hoogstraat 49
9000 Gent
Monday-Friday 11:00-18:00
+Thursday: 20:00 till…
Huset is also on Facebook! www.facebook.com/galerijhuset
A special thanks to Quatre Mains Piano Centrum in Ghent for sponsoring us and making this new venture possible!
Quatre Mains is also on Facebook! www.facebook.com/quatremainspianos