International Journalism and PR, Interviews: Limburg, Limburg, My tips

Marieke Severens in WonderLimburg: ”That makes the distance between Barcelona and Maastricht very small”

That makes the distance between Barcelona and Maastricht very small

Interview with Marieke Severens, founder of PontArte: a tailored “on-demand art gallery” located in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

From Roermond to Barcelona and then to Maastricht

My name is Marieke Severens. I am Dutch, born in Roermond and came back to the Netherlands in august 2015 after 13,5 years of living in Barcelona, Spain.
I moved to Spain in 2002 with my husband. I took the opportunity to do an MBA and after that I worked for 10 years at HP, until I decided to start my own art gallery in 2013.
We moved back to Limburg in 2015 for several reasons. Work-related but also to get away from the independence pressure in Catalonia, which Barcelona forms part of. I also do have 2 kids, now 12 and 10 and it was still a good age for them to move.

We settled in Maastricht, the best town for people that move (back) to the Netherlands due to its open character and outgoing mentality. It was strange to be back in the Netherlands and especially in Limburg. I moved to Rotterdam in 1990 and after that didn’t visit Maastricht until in 2012 or so. Limburg is a great place to live.

Meeting at the plaza and open attitude

One of the main differences with Spain is that people in the Netherlands spend less time outside the house, having coffee or drinks and meeting at the “plaza”. Another thing I do miss in Maastricht is the friendly and open attitude of the Spanish. In the Netherlands people aren’t that open and interested in other people and I think it is even stronger in Limburg. The Spanish culture is more spontaneous, here all has to be planned weeks in advance. Which is good for business but more difficult for socializing

Well-organized and central

I do like the well organized way here in the Netherlands. The Jekerdal is a great area to have a walk, it is very close to where we live and in every season beautiful. I also like the old city centre of Maastricht. What is also good is that Maastricht is very central, you are in a bit more than an hour in Brussels and Cologne and Aachen and Liege are only 20 minutes away.

Limburg is now my Limburg

Limburg is now my Limburg. We do live here and you have to make it your home. There are many international people so you feel at home very soon. I also have taken my business from Spain to the Netherlands. I have an art gallery here, with mainly artists from Barcelona and that makes the distance between Barcelona and Maastricht very small. The artists I represent range from emerging talents to established artists, who each have their own distinct style and story. My way of working with them is characterized by long-term personal relationships. I often visit Barcelona and the artists all want to come and see and work in Maastricht. We have had Oriol Texidor in residence last September, giving workshops and presenting his new work in The Werkhuis and Caracola in Maastricht and now we are working with Marc Prat and Jenny Owens to have them over this summer. Marc Prat is already working with Jos from the Grafisch Ateliers in Maastricht to work there and Jenny can’t wait to have the works in the new gallery building started as she wants to make a project out of that.

The best tip for expats

The best tip for any expat/international is that you have to go out to look for contacts. I have joined the IWC and it is great fun. Further I have joined the Lions Club Maastricht Mondial. Both organisations embrace the international diversity in Maastricht, which makes it very easy to feel at home.

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