Step by step, the word SAVE OUR SOULS appeared in Heppeneert. No distress signals this time, but a sand sculpture by writer Maarten Inghels.To be admired in the winter dyke, opposite the little church in Heppeneert.

Maarten Inghels (1988) did not choose this spot in Heppeneert by chance. In 2021, the Meuse threatened to flow over the dike of the Limburg pilgrimage town here. The emergency services reinforced the dike with sandbags, which could barely hold. So the SOS we know from books or films as the distress signal of shipwrecked sailors came very close here

Now a 25-metre-long sculpture in sand can be seen from the same dike in the river's winter bed: SAVE OUR SOULS.  For Inghels, it is a futile cry for help in these times of increasing floods and summer drought. That the artwork can flood or wash away is essential to this. In doing so, the writer emphasises our vulnerability to the immense power of water. But it is also a reference to the pilgrimage site and church nearby, where soul salvation is central.

After previous projects on the Scheldt and the IJzer, Maarten Inghels now chooses the Meuse. When he read that sand sculptures by the sea are often built with Maas sand, the idea grew. What turns out: the square grain structure of the sand is ideal for sculptures, unlike coastal sand. So here in Heppeneert, he uses a material from the region: Maas sand. 

SAVE OUR SOULS fits into a series of word sculptures by Maarten Inghels. It is his third work about Belgian rivers. Earlier, for 'A tree a boat a man', he sailed on a raft in the shape of the word WATER on the Yser from the French-Belgian border to Nieuwpoort by the sea. Inghels also wrote the poem 'I follow the river, I am the river' while walking along the Scheldt to check the flow from source to mouth for irregularities and bumps.

Kunst aan de Maas is an initiative of Z33, Huis voor Actuele Kunst, Design & Architectuur (Hasselt) and Regionaal Landschap Kempen & Maasland.

The project receives financial support from Flanders, in particular Tourism Flanders and Fonds Culturele Infrastructuur (FoCI), De Vlaamse Waterweg and five 5 Maasland municipalities (Kinrooi, Maaseik, Dilsen-Stokkem, Maasmechen and Lanaken). The project comes about in cooperation with numerous actors active in the Maasvallei River Park.


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Heppeneert 20
3680 Maaseik How do I get here?

SAVE OUR SOULS is free to visit from 21.09 until april as long as it continues to withstand the elements of nature.

Parking: behind the church of Heppeneert.

Cycling and walking route: the work of art is close to cycle junction 26 and along the red, yellow and purple walking route of the Aldeneik walking area.