In 2010 Wapke Feenstra explored the Limburg landscape by following the movements of land-based products.


Students from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts stroll across the spoil heap gathering stones and looking for inspiration. Jean Vuegen acts as guide and tells them about the structure and recent history of these hills. He suggests that they climb the bare, unkempt spoil heap, which is less high and steep. There is hardly a breath of wind at the bottom, but there is a biting gale at the top. Visibility is good. Jean points out the mine shafts and church spires in the distance. You can even see the ski run on the Landgraaf heap. But you can’t see the mine in Eisden; the ground there has sunk 7 metres. Forecast showers drift towards Waterschei, the sky becomes overcast.


Together with Michiel Dusar I look at some large boulders, leftovers from the gravel extraction. He sees aeons of pressure, wear, melting and movement in these stones and can tell that they are from the Ardennes. Michiel works for the Geological Survey of Belgium. I watch closely as I intend to make animated pictures of the moving earth. I try to work out how the gravel got here. That’s a tough challenge, as we’re talking millions of years... Almost impossible to imagine. However, there are some things to go by. I notice that the current is stronger here because the riverbed is low. I see that bricks made from the locally won loam are brown. "There’s a lot of humus in the loam as there were forests here in the past", Michiel tells me. I draw trees and soil profiles in my sketch book.


"Don't go too close to the edge", Cathy Blervacq warns. She is Head of Communications at Sibelco's and knows this landscape. The ridge is crumbling around the large, deep pool where the two sand suckers, De Reiger and De Riebos, are at work. That’s why this area is closed to the public. The sand suckers steadily slurp up the sand, which disappears into the plant through a thick pipe. The groundwater rises, the edges crumble and the pool spreads. They work to a depth of 50 metres. This pool will extend towards Farmfrites, but for safety reasons they stop at least 50 metres from the access road. The Maatheide sand will be used in the glass industry. Near the exit a train edges forward every now and then and places a new wagon under the loading point. There´s a constant coming and going of trucks. And silica sand is being loaded onto a barge on the canal.


There’s a French Globetrotter truck in the marlstone cave. It was sent by McCain. McCain wants Markies potatoes. That’s why Christof Haesen is loading them onto the conveyer and sorting belts that run to the truck. Undersized potatoes are taken away via a separate conveyer. The truck drives off with around 30 tonnes of contract potatoes. Christof wastes no time clearing the storage area, gathering stray potatoes and stacking the loose air shafts of the ventilation system. Potatoes need ventilation to stay dry. Under these conditions Markies can be stored from harvest time (September-October) until June.