At the beginning of February, we had the most amazing opportunity to visit a linen mill and flax museum in Kortrijk, Belgium.
Day 1 – The Mill
The first part of the visit involved visiting the mill. It has been on my wish list to visit for some years, so I knew I would enjoy the visit, however I was overwhelmed at how Belgium has such a rich heritage of linen. We were immersed on a journey of how flax is grown through to the weaving of the linen cloth.
After a presentation, we had a tour of the mill, which was a real education to understand how this incredible plant is processed into a beautiful heritage cloth. We saw the preparation department, weaving, shearing, mending, rolling, inspecting and the warehouse.
The day was a real insight into the dedication of the people involved in working in harmony with nature to produce a beautiful cloth.
Day 2 – The Golden River
As if our visit to the Mill wasn’t enough we were delighted to discover the Texture Museum.
The museum is a hidden gem in a magnificent warehouse building on the Leie River, which was originally a linen distribution centre.
The museum is beautifully curated and takes you on a tour over three floors. The ground floor is an interactive, tactile display of flax showing the plant at its different stages, nothing of this plant is wasted. There were examples of the many uses of flax from linen, to composite products, food for human and animal consumption and more.
On the 2nd floor an overview of the economic history of Kortrijk and the region harvesting flax is given. Highlighted are the many ups and downs of an economy highly dependent on 1 crop, and an explanation why some, currently large, factories are located in small villages. The industry prized itself on the superior quality of flax being due to the water in the river Leie. The flax plant, the artisans and the golden river brought wealth to Kortrijik.
We left Kortrijk with a real sense of community through hearing deep routed stories and the long lasting heritage. There is such respect for the flax plant that the people working in the industry have passed on their knowledge and skills to future generations. The people and dedicated to sustainability. Not only does flax require no irrigation, there is no waste with the production process, every part of the plant us used.