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"Virelles, Etang d’Art" is a project aimed at creating awareness of nature and the links that can bring us back in touch with the environment. This is achieved mainly through art but also through philosophy and poetry.

The project has several components, each of which complements the others:

1) Dusk Dreams: an invitation to discover the wild and secret corners of the nature reserve, so as to call up the artistic impulse that is present in each of us.

2) The Land Art works of art: aimed at wakening the artistic spirit with an artistic concept in perfect harmony with the environment.

3) Dawn Chorus: canoe trips in the majesty of the sunrise.

4) School groups: an Art & Nature day aimed at clubs, ateliers and schools with art courses or those wishing to organise an artistic activity for their pupils. 5) Art & Nature holiday courses: five days of discovering nature, for young children and teenagers.

5) Art & Nature holiday courses: five days of discovering nature, for young children and teenagers.

1) Dusk Dreams

Dusk Dreams, or “reveries of a solitary walker,” takes us on a walk through the most secret parts of the nature reserve.

This highly personal experience leads us to view the natural elements in a new way that is at once more sensitive, more intimate and more contemplative. It is an invitation “to be” rather than “to know”!

In other words, this trail enables visitors to:

  • immerse themselves in the heart of wild nature,

  • let themselves be touched by the forces of the natural elements,

  • express the emotions felt in this very special world,

  • share their thoughts and feelings with others.

“ ...To conserve nature is more than just to preserve a particular place, it is to hold on to the indefinable sensation that we feel when confronted with anything that is not of human origin.”

François Terrasson

The Dusk Dreams trail leads us through different swampy or marshy environments (alder swamp, willow grove and reedbed), each with its own original beauty. Along the way there are observation points (hides or blocks of wood) where visitors can sit down, open themselves to contemplation and express their thoughts.

Note that the trail really is wild. It is also protected, being classified as a Natura 2000 alder swamp. As such, access is granted to visitors under certain conditions:

  • visitors must undertake to respect the site by signing a mini-charter (10 lines). In return for assuming this responsibility they are granted the privileged experience;

  • the number of visitors permitted access to the trail is limited to 20 at any one moment. This is done by giving each visitor a key that opens the “door to the swamp”: this is a symbolic door, marking the boundary between the human world on the one hand and the world of nature on the other, taking us into an area of silence, stillness and contemplation.

At the start of the trail visitors receive a goody bag containing various artistic materials, with which they are encouraged to give vent to their artistic instincts and express their thoughts and feelings.

On returning to Aquascope they hand back their materials and are invited to share their little works of art and recordings of their impressions. With the agreement of the visitors, these are then scanned and placed on the Internet.

Gallery of impressions

On this page you will find some of impressions that have been left behind at Aquascope. Some of them are signed, while others remain anonymous. But all of them express the feelings and experiences of people who have participated in Dusk Dreams. Feel free to browse through them and enjoy.



2) Land Art

The four
Land Art works of art have been created by Bob Verschueren, Daniel Steenhaut, Anne Mortiaux and Pierre Doome using natural materials. They are designed to awaken the artistic spirit of visitors, inviting them to discover this modern art concept that explores and expresses a more harmonious relationship with nature. They lead us to reflect on the shapes and materials used, the choice of location, the time, the light and the changing, evolving aspect of natural phenomena.


Andy Goldsworthy, one of the renowned Land Art artists, has written the following about his approach and his sense of the link between himself nature:



"Movement, change, light, growth and decomposition irrigate nature. I try to tap into these energies in my work. I need the shock of the touch, the resistance of the place, the materials and the weather, and of the earth as a source. I like to dig below the surface. When I am working with a leaf, a rock or a branch, it’s not just a material that I manipulate, it’s a window on the processes of life, looking into the object itself and all around it. Even when I have finished, these processes continue ... I have learned that nature is in a state of change, and that this change is the key to understanding it. I want my art to be awake, sensitive to the changes in material, the changes of season and weather. ... What is important for me is that at the heart of everything I do there is an ever greater understanding and ever sharper perception of the earth as a country."



3) Twilight trails

Are you a dreamer?

Do you have an artistic or contemplative streak?

Or would you simply like to learn to look at nature in a different way?

If so, join us on one of our many daybreak outings in a canoe for the Dawn Chorus, or experience the still silence as night falls around you, by yourself or in a group, on the trail of our Dusk Dreams.



4) School groups

As part of our constant concern to let each person develop their own personality, we try to include an artistic approach in most of our group visits for schools. We also offer an Art & Nature day for schools with an arts option.


  • To allow young people to get away for the day in the natural environment, where they can let their souls expand and discover the world around them.

  • To encourage them to reflect, take time to immerse themselves in a truly wild setting and absorb the highly personal atmosphere of the swamp.

  • To let them overcome their fear of solitude and nature, instead being receptive to the emotions that these provoke.

  • To experience a moment of artistic creation in nature.

Description of the day:


Morning: “Journey to the end of the earth” (2 hours 30 minutes)

This sensory immersion encourages the pupils to let themselves be carried away by the natural environment of the swamps and the force of its atmosphere. Step by step, the nature guide offers gentle promptings that enable the participants to use their imaginations and to contemplate nature, to breathe it in, to listen to it, to touch it and let themselves be touched by it, in a series of moments designed to open up their senses and come to terms with this very special place.


Afternoon: “Reveries of the solitary artist” (length of time to be agreed with the teacher)

The guide places each pupil separately in a different microcosm of unspoiled nature (or invites them to find their own place). These places are little corners of completely wild nature with a strong emotional charge. At the centre of each is a simple block of wood on which to sit down and absorb the atmosphere. As they sit there and drink in the impressions of this strange world, the pupils will probably feel certain emotions. These may experience pleasure and a feeling of peace, or on the contrary they may experience fear and anxiety; they may be drawn by curiosity or torn by tensions within themselves. But in each case this magical moment is favourable to artistic expression and creation, when the pupils find themselves alone amidst wild, unspoiled nature, confronted with their own emotions. Depending on the technique chosen by the teacher, pupils will be led to create, drawing their inspiration from the environment. Afterwards, the pupils will be able to exchange their individual impressions and compare one another’s artworks (freely and on a voluntary basis), and then move on to more general, philosophical considerations such as beauty, the need to preserve nature and protect it, our place in the world and our relation to nature.

“ ...Probably the greatest mistake we make about environmental education is to learn about nature in a group, so that we avoid having to come to grips with the emotional shock of solitary encounter with it.”

François Terrasson




5) Art & Nature courses

Nature discovery courses are available for children aged 5 to 7, 8 to 9, 10 to 12 and 13 to 15 during the summer holidays, sometimes in collaboration with dedicated artists. Be sure to consult the “Courses” section to see what artistic subjects will be offered for upcoming courses.


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