Time for lunch. And yet another occasion to revise some of our stereotypical preconceptions about nationality and customs. This continuous process of self-critical re-evaluation is one of the most valuable rewards of travelling in our large, heterogeneous international group. Oddly, I find it easier to listen to other people now that I’ve come to appreciate, respect and even admire them on this long and sometimes very tiring journey. (Frankly, it would have made more sense to be fed up with everyone by now, no?) To my own surprise, I happily readjust some of my previous assumptions, opinions and expectations every day. I must say I like it. It feels good to broaden your views, raise your mind, improve your thoughts, really travel…
Okay, this lofty digression may sound a bit out of place here but I’m serious. Even if I was actually going to comment on a very light & slight cultural question. I mean, the Dutch notion of lunch is a popular joke amongst us Belgians. (We think of buttermilk and sticky industrial bread). Having lunch with Erik Pol induces me to adjust even this general notion. We enjoy a great meal on the terrace roof of his beautiful house in Rufisque. The view is grand. The food is outstanding : fresh home-grown products (oh, that coriander!), local cuisine… Is Erik really Dutch? Anyway, his excellent cook is Senegalese. As Veerle, with her typical gracious style, reminds us of. She starts a well deserved round of applause for Erik’s Senegalese cook. Yes, we’re grateful.
Erik Pol used to live in the Alamadies neighbourhood in Dakar, quite near to Mauro Pettroni’s Ceramic Studio. He moved out of town because rent prices in the residential seafront area soared. Jan Devos, a Belgian architect, designed his new house. It is a simple, elegant structure built of local laterite bricks, their red colour blending nicely with the hues of the vast, surrounding landscape.
Erik Pol is the founder of Pols Potten, a well-known Dutch company of design and decoration objects inspired by ethnic styles and crafts. He’s still a partner of the company and he’s also a designer and art collector. Local craftspeople carve his designs from dibm wood (Cordilla Pinata) in his woodwork studio in Rufisque. They do series as well as one offs. They’re very skilled and their working conditions seem to be pleasant enough. (During our visit they’re all sitting together on what looks like a carpet of wood chips in the shadow of a majestic tree).
As a dedicated collector Eric is happy to show us a lot of interesting pieces by Norman Trapman, Hans Van Bentem, Wieki Somers, distinguished Senegalese artist Soly Cissé (cfr. statues against the wall of the house), young talented glass artist Fally Séne Sow and many more.